Cheapest way to keep a domain name—not actually use it
February 4, 2019 5:50 AM   Subscribe

I had a personal website. I have a common name, so I used my first, middle, and last names as the url. I took the site down, but would like to keep the url—with a potential eye to launching it again in a few years, and for liability purposes (I don’t want my url to become a notorious site, since it is my f/m/l names). What’s the cheapest way to keep the url on ice, given that I don’t want actually want to host anything? Currently on Godaddy.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Pay for the name registration (about $10 a year) but cancel hosting. Anyone going to that URL will get a page that says the name is registered with GoDaddy. This is commonly referred to as "domain parking."

(This may be helpful.)
posted by The Deej at 5:56 AM on February 4 [9 favorites]

Just maintain ownership of the domain name itself, and don't set up hosting anywhere. (Most registrars do their very best to confuse these separate processes, because they want you to pay them for hosting as well as for the domain name, but they're really completely separate things.)

The price of registering the domain itself varies by registrar; most of them are cheap for the first year and then jack up the price. Ignoring the cheap initial year, GoDaddy is one of the more expensive registrars (looks like they're charging $17.99/year for .com addresses; 1and1 charges $15/year, namecheap is at $10.98 currently. The Worst Registrar On Earth is Network Solutions, which charges a ridiculous $65 for two years of a .com, and makes you go very deep into the purchase process before revealing that fact....)

The more years worth of registration you buy at once, the lower the price; and you can transfer domains from one registrar to another to find a better price (though again they do their best to make this more complicated than it needs to be... generally the registrar you're switching to will have some process available for moving the registration away from an existing registrar.)
posted by ook at 6:04 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]

Namecheap has pretty low prices on domain names, and I've used Dreamhost for domains for a few years and they're pretty inexpensive as well. Google Domains also seems to have fairly low prices on .com domain names.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:22 AM on February 4

All the other posters are correct. I have a number of domains that I've purchased and am currently doing nothing with registered at Google. They charge ~$12 a year for domain registration.

I like it cause it's tied to my Google account (you may NOT like this) so it's one fewer thing for me to remember a login for. And I find the pricing pretty fair.
posted by kellygrape at 6:33 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]

I’ve found pretty good for this. I also used them after a recommendation from mefi.
posted by amil at 8:10 AM on February 4

I have a lot of domains at and I like them because you can make your own one page website there for no additional cost. So you could just put up a a photo or a blank page (example, other example - both of these are free with domain hosting which is maybe $15/year) that wouldn't have any other company's branding all over it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]

GitHub will host static websites for free and will let you point a domain at them. I use them for both (repo) and (repo).

If I were in your position, I'd cancel the hosting and keep the domain name, then create a small GitHub project containing a just a placeholder page with those contact details I feel comfortable sharing and point the domain at it.

The downside is that this can be tricky to set up but you can pretty much ignore it once it works. Feel free to memail me if you have questions.

Also: beware that some of the low-end hosting services seem to be claiming ownership of your domain name in their TOS. This may or may not be a problem for you.
posted by suetanvil at 10:17 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]

Seconding, which has a long history of doing the right thing and generally not being jerks in how they run their business.
posted by intermod at 11:29 AM on February 4

As I always say-- Friends don't let friends use Godaddy.

Thirding— migrate your domain name to them and then optionally throw some money into credit, set the domain to autorenew and never think about it again until you need it. I manage just about 50 domains with them now, and in over ten years, they've never screwed me over, or tried to jack up a renewal rate like ALL other registrar's I've used.

Gandi's Transfer guide

I've had a small registrar/hosting dealio steal a domain (one of their employees registered it), Godaddy ended up discontinuing a TLD for a while because of me, since they were not updating the correct root registry so the domains were left in limbo. Also, GoDaddy had a billing cycle renewal thing going on- They would try your credit card for renewal say on the 21st, but if you had card had expired or the bank rejected it, you'd fix it-- but by default they'd only try again on the next 21st, even if that was past the expiry date-- when you would then have to pay a reinstatement fee too. Then Enom recently jacked their renewal prices (60$ for a .com renewal!) so moved my final two domains from them to Gandi in December.

So in short, Gandi-- no bullshit™ :)
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:57 PM on February 4

It might also help to provide specific guidance if you specified where your website and domain is hosted. As noted by others, some hosting providers combine the two services which can sometimes make it more difficult or complex to transfer the domain away.
posted by Aleyn at 1:08 PM on February 4

I'll be the anti-Gandi person here. I had a domain for 15 years, moved it to Gandi, where it was for 2 years, and then got an email from them insisting I use my real name (the domain was registered under a pseudonym)--which, at the time, was pretty much a dead name. I declined and when I went to move the domain away, they froze it and refused to let me transfer it. Because I refused to send them ID with my real name, I ended up losing the domain to a squatter and have never been able to get it back.

I have used that pseudonym before and after that without issue at godaddy, pair (which is what I use now and what I recommend to you), 1and1, netfirms, and many other registrars over the years. Gandi's the only one that fucked me.
posted by dobbs at 2:53 PM on February 4

Yes, but ICANN doesn't allow anonymous registering of domain names, like it or not, so you could also argue Gandi's the only one doing their job.

FWIW I have always found Namecheap to be rock solid and quite clear about the separation between registration and hosting. Their prices are normally good too.
posted by deadwax at 2:53 AM on February 5

I use
posted by bluesapphires at 4:01 AM on February 5

Seconding Namecheap if you need another option. Great interface, easy, cheap, no problems. We have 40 or 50 domains with them.
posted by nosila at 6:53 AM on February 5

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