Domain names — the most important control point

He or she who owns the domain name can control all Internet-related services, including the website, email, and in many cases, social media accounts as well.

In other words, if you have or are planning to have a website, domain email, or other Internet-based service, NOTHING is more important than picking a good domain name and owning it yourself.

It should cost about $15/year to purchase a domain name. If a registrar wants more, they are probably “upselling” you on a bundle of services you do not need. Never pay more than $15/year for domain registration.

Choosing a Registrar

There are many reputable registrars. Network Solutions was the first company allowed by the government to sell domain names to private companies and individuals in the US, starting around 1996. For many years, Network Solutions took advantage of its monopoly status to charge exorbitant rates, typically $75/year. For this reason, I have a difficult time recommending the company, despite its excellent user interface and stability as a business. That said, it has decent customer service, and decent documentation, and is one of the less “sleazy” registrars: it is less likely than some to prey on customer ignorance and fear as a means to up-sell unneeded services like nameservers, website hosting, security certificates, email forwarding, and so forth.

GoDaddy is perhaps the best-know registrar, due to its ubiquitous advertising, which typically includes Superbowl ads featuring surgically enhanced models. The sexist nature of these ads says a lot about the company, in my opinion. I do not recommend them.

TuCows is another popular registrar. It provides branded domain registration services to quite a few hosting providers.

Dyn is the company I recommend most often. I like the simplicity of its user interface. Recently, though, Dyn stopped offering its free Dynamic DNS service, while repositioning itself for the high-end corporate market. At that time, it more than doubled its rates for nameservers. Since then, I have been less eager to recommend it. It’s still okay, though, as long as you only register a domain there and delegate lower-cost or free third-party nameservers. Their email service is also costly compared to alternatives such as Google for Business.

Choosing a Nameserver provider

Again, what matters is who registered and who owns the domain name. Everything else, including nameservers, is secondary.

Therefore, I recommend you go with whatever nameserver provider your developer recommends. Delegating nameservers that your developer controls puts them in the best position to help you. And, if you change developers, you can simply change nameserver providers as well, making for a neat transition with very little if any downtime.

Many registrars offer free nameservers, but if you use them, you will have to take steps to ensure your developer has access to them.

Domain problems to avoid at all costs

Here are a few common situations that frequently cause technical and legal problems:

  • Previous business owner still owns website domain
  • Previous employee owns website domain
  • Previous web developer still owns website domain

Less problematic but still wasteful is the common case where the business owner pays their domain provider every year for a raft of unneeded, unused services. If your domain registration bill is more than $15/year, you may fall into this category.

If you think your business may be affected by these or similar domain problems, get in touch for a free domain consultation. We can help you transfer your domain to a registrar account under your control. It’s a little bit of hassle now that can pay off big down the road.