It’s now been over a year since I wrote my previous review of the best and worst domain registrars. This year I will be taking a broader look at some of the most popular domain registrars, including Name.com (last years best) and Godaddy (last years worst).
NameSilo is another registrar which is new to me. I have not used them before but their pricing at $8.99 is cheap with discounts starting at more than 9 domains. Privacy and protection is also included in the price. In addition to all this good stuff they also have easy one click access to all my domain names. Setting up an account was easy and did not require me to buy anything. Paying for a domain is also easy with many payment options (even bitcoin). Their user interface could be nicer perhaps but it is not overly complicated at all. The only negative thing I could find is that they don’t support very many domain extensions but I am ok with that as I have mostly .com as they are still the most trusted and popular. Their support seemed very helpful and checking reviews only supports my findings as you can see here and here. Use the coupon code MARKUSTENGHAMN to get $1 off your next domain purchase.
Finally a simple registrar, IWantMyName is very simple and easy to use. Searching for a domain is easy and very user friendly. However I did see some issues which I would consider bugs such as the domain I searched for being listed twice in the search results. The navigation is easy to use, they even have a link that takes me directly to my domains in one click. The pricing however is expensive compared to other registrars. $15 for a .com may not sound like much but when you have over 100 domains for example it really adds up when comparing $1100 to $1490 in yearly expenses. I would actually consider moving my domains here as everything seems really good. If IWantMyName had slightly lower prices I would definitely make the move. As I am with Name.com and I am Swedish I am comparing my .com ($10.99 vs $14.90) and .se ($24.99 vs $39) prices. If you are looking for an easy to use interface and don’t mind the extra price I would definitely recommend IWantMyName.
Name.com has made several changes to their user interface since I wrote my last review. They have added a menu system where I now need to perform at least two clicks to get to my domains. The menus are not easy to navigate either as you might wonder if you will find a list of your domains under the domains tab or under the account tab. Clicking the my account tab will show the my domains link as a green heading which I didn’t really read or see as a link as I thought it was simply a green heading. Clicking on the domains tab will bring up a huge menu which I naturally read from left to right, finally seeing the large green blob labled “my domains” after scanning through all the other menu options.
Another reason I used to go to name.com was to easily access their whois search to find out various things like which registrar the domain belongs to or simply when it expires. This used to be its own link in the header, but now it is hidden in the navigation menu under “About->Resources” right under the question “What’s my IP address”.
In my opinion name.com has gone backwards in user friendliness, creating a menu system which is similar to the horrible Godaddy menu system. Name.com is still the registrar that I use at this time due to good and fair prices. I know they do not use bait and switch tactics like Godaddy. If Name.com wants to improve I would suggest going back to the old look and work on that, add a separate drop down menu for all the other services and things you offer but make things like my domains and whois search easy to access with one click.
NameCheap has definitely improved it’s user interface since last time. When comparing it to Name.com (my personal favorite) it still takes as many clicks to get to places but it is not as cluttered, therefore making it quicker to navigate. Prices are about the same where .com goes for 20 cents less at NameCheap but name.com sells .net domains for a dollar less. They seem to have kept their old interface for handling domains which is a bit cluttered, if they improve this and make it easier to navigate and use I may actually consider making the switch to NameCheap.
Dreamhost is mainly a hosting company but also registers domain names. Domains are decently priced at $11.95 per year but they do seem to throw in extra services like a .rocks domain name I did not want. Reviews seem good as they are for both hosting and domain names. I do however find their control panel to be a bit cluttered like Namecheap. If you are looking to create one website dreamhost is a pretty good choice but if you want to own multiple domains with multiple websites you are probably better off going with something else. They do advertise that you can host ecommerce sites on their shared hosting but in all honesty this won’t work very well unless you are running a very small web store. Dreamhost seems good, but they could improve their interface and domain prices to compete with the better registrars.
After Hover convinced me to take a second look I did a complete review of them in order to either justify my previous review or prove myself wrong. All I can say is that I was wrong about Hover, they are a pretty good registrar with perhaps some issues and bad reviews in the past. Their system does not have the security flaws that it used to have, I didn’t do any large tests but was unable to find anything wrong as of now. Their support seems pretty good both by email and by phone. Ordering a domain was simple and it is easy to manage settings. The one thing that I don’t like is that I can’t create an account to see how their interface works without buying a domain. If Hover allowed users to sign up for free without ordering anything they may be able to gain a few more customers who are skeptical.
Hover seems nice, I thought I would be impressed when I first heard of it but testing out their site and looking around at what others had to say I am not so sure anymore. There are many red flags and their pricing is not even that good. You can see many bad reviews here with and average rating of 14/100. My recommendation is to stay away, find a different registrar.
1and1.com was the first web host and registrar that I used when I got started with web development. Their service has always been ok and still is but it is not the greatest. I remember having some trouble cancelling my services with them when I decided to move to a new host but nothing major. Looking for reviews brings mixed results mentioning some small issues with their control panel and support systems, but nothing major. They do seem to use some of the bait and switch tactics we have seen other registrars use where a domain will be super cheap the first year and then it might be $15 or so to renew. It is an average registrar and most likely you are better off going with another registrar.
Hostgator is actually where I bought my first reseller hosting package and and started my first web hosting company for small clients. I have actually been to a job interview at their Houston location and got the job but ended up turning it down for an internship that I got. Everything on their hosting and domain worked well but I did find better alternatives to their services later on. Their user interface is fairly easy to navigate but nothing special. Domains will cost a bit more here, $12.95 to register and about $15 to renew. They have had some bad customer support issues but they do seem to be available most of the time. Hostgator is actually an Enom reseller which means that you will most likely receive higher prices from Hostgator. Picking host gator is alright but you are most likely better off with a different registrar recommended in this review.
Enom’s prices are pretty high with domains starting at $13.95. Their user interface is also pretty complicated causing you to have to make several clicks to navigate to your domains for example and even more so if you want to change something like DNS settings. They do offer reseller plans here which may be of interest, I received my plan for free when I became a hostgator reseller but don’t use it anymore. I would find a better reseller however unless you are selling enough domains to make use of their best reseller plan.
One.com will require you to get web hosting when registering a domain and overall the total cost will be a bit pricy. You are not gaining very much by combining these services and one.com’s hosting is nothing special. It’s an average registrar and you are better off using a different registrar and host.
Gandi is new to me, I do like their search function that presents a nice whois link when a domain is already taken. Domain prices are a little high at around $13. Digging deeper however I am finding similar trends to the way Godaddy tries to throw in more services to my order. Their support seems very slow or unresponsive almost making me wonder whether they are still active. When looking for reviews I only found negative comments finding the same issues I had encountered as you can see here. Gandi recommends going to their support group here where I found similar issues and not a lot of great support. I would stay away from this registrar for the time being.
Yahoo actually seems pretty nice from the outside. Domains for only $9.95 sounds great. However Yahoo works like Godaddy, Yahoo will constantly try to sell you other services and when you have to renew your domain the cost could triple. Many users have also complained about the user interface, which does not seem to be getting any better. Users have said to get offers which they decline and are then prompted to login again to verify who they are which brings up the same offer and starts the loop all over again. Have a look at some of the reviews which can be found here.
Domain.com seems alright from the outside but they do force you to make a purchase before you can create a so called “free” account. The interface does not seem to cluttered nor does it seem very good so I am neutral on those aspects. Digging further I did find some horror stories of domain.com clients who are unable to cancel their domain renewals and hosting, some have even stated that hosting was added to their account without their acknowledgement. I can’t confirm these reviews but there are so many detailed bad reviews that it is hard to see past it. I would stay away or at least be very careful if you do decide to use domain.com.
Network Solutions, Register.com and Web.com (BAD)
I have used Network Solutions which is now part of Web.com when I was running my hosting business. I believe a company I bought had a server or some services with Network Solutions. I can see that the company has changed quiet a bit since I was last active on their site. Domains will now cost $27 or more depending on which site you use and it seems that they would prefer to combine this with other services such as web designs and web hosting. I feel that these companies are only trying to lure small business owners who want a website and end up having to pay way more than needed because they find these companies and they seem “safe”. I got frustrated that they added my domain to my shopping cart as soon as I found one that was available, I felt like I was dealing with a sales person who kept asking me if I wanted to buy every TV that I simply looked at in the store. No whois link for domains that were already taken was also another negative point. I would stay away from these companies, ask your web designer or web developer what they use and use that instead. Or the best solution, look at my thorough review and go with the registrar and host that best suits you.
DomainNames.com seems very likely to be linked to web.com. When looking around the web you find nothing but bad reviews and their site is currently only a login screen for support and management of your account. Stay away.
Godaddy has improved slightly on their interface since last years review. However they still have large menus that are complicated to navigate through and seem to be using the same bait and switch methods as before. After finally finding a domain that you like you will receive several offers for email, hosting, etc before you can even get to the cart. All prices seem to have an asterisk or two telling you that their super low price is only valid if you pay for 2 years or more. Going from previous experience I feel as if Godaddy wants to lock me in to use their services for as long as possible or to simply get as much money out of me before I leave. Looking around for what Godaddy charges for renewals I found several red flags where users are getting charged “market prices” for their renewals. You can see a forum thread regarding how Godaddy charges way too much for renewals here. This post here even gives an additional 6 reasons why you should stay away from Godaddy.
About this review
Domain registrars reviewed have been nominated by user submissions or comments from our previous review of registrars. Feel free to leave a comment to nominate next years domain name registrars. Moniker was a considered registrar but due to site issues I was unable to test and review the site. Looking at reviews Moniker may have placed as average but would most likely not have been good or best.