domain name registrars that don´t suck
March 1, 2008 10:14 AM   Subscribe

What domain name registrars for the .com TLD hit the sweet spot between ease, reliability and price at present?

Searched for previous questions, but the most recent one I found was in 2005, and I figure the landscape might have shifted.
Success / horror stories welcome.
posted by signal to Computers & Internet (30 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if they are presently the cheapest, but I've always had good luck with
posted by majikstreet at 10:19 AM on March 1, 2008

It appears as if for a .com domain the registrar has to pay 6.00 to VeriSign and 0.25 to ICANN (USD), so it would have to be more than 6.25 because they would make no profit at that price.. Just so you know..
posted by majikstreet at 10:24 AM on March 1, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. FWIW, I'm not looking for the cheapest one, but for a 100% reliable & reasonably priced one.
posted by signal at 10:29 AM on March 1, 2008

I've always used Gandi and never had any reliability issues. They used to be very "techy", with a difficult to navigate web interface and not a lot of support, but that changed a year or so back and now I've no hesitation in recommending them even to "non-techies"...
posted by benzo8 at 10:32 AM on March 1, 2008

Maybe I'm out of touch, but I 've never had any trouble with
posted by paulrockNJ at 10:39 AM on March 1, 2008

Seconding Gandi. Never had a problem with them.
posted by amf at 11:05 AM on March 1, 2008

Another vote for Namecheap, although I wish they offered credit card auto-renewal and had a way to synchronize their anonymous whois feature with actual domain renewals.
posted by kindall at 11:16 AM on March 1, 2008

Best answer: Majikstreet - in the .com space the total cost out of pocket to a registrar is $6.62. Verisign raised it's prices in October of 2007 to $6.42. ICANN dropped it's fee to .20.

There is little reason to spend more than $8 for registration at this stage of the industry. Do you have just one domain or are you getting into domain investing?

I work for a top 20 registrar and we're currently offering .com registrations below cost. That freaks some people out, but we've been in the industry for five years. Between our top four people we have a combined forty years in the domain space.

Depending on your needs (single name or small portfolio holder to full blown domain investor) I'd be happy to make suggestions.

And, for what it's worth, I have been moving my portfolio of names (upon which I absolutely depend on for part of my income) to my employer.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:29 AM on March 1, 2008

I definitely recommend NameCheap
posted by 913 at 11:53 AM on March 1, 2008

I love, love, love I've had a few issues with them recently in that my transactions kept getting flagged for fraud. One email and they marked my account so it doesn't happen again in the future.

FlamingBore: That is awesome that you work for them. I have one HUGE complaint. Why don't they have auto-renew? I was told that ICANN won't allow them to, but that doesn't make any sense to me.
posted by AaRdVarK at 12:09 PM on March 1, 2008

I've used 1&1 for over a year, and they have been excellent. great reliability, reasonably priced (6.99 a year), and their web interface is really straightforward.
posted by grandsham at 12:19 PM on March 1, 2008

Response by poster: FlamingBore: great to hear from somebody in the industry. I am looking to register one domain name immediatly,and maybe a few more in the next few months, though never in bulk or as 'investing
posted by signal at 12:22 PM on March 1, 2008

Namecheap is pretty good, and they're who I register all my personal names with. If you're hosting your own DNS, website, and mail through your own provider, they're fine; you just need someone to do the database injection for you. Namecheap also offers a nice anonymizer service, Whoisguard.

If you want them to actually HOST your DNS, then I'd look at maybe They're German, and sometimes you can hear it in their use of English, and their website always used to be a, "klunky" would be the best way I can describe it, a bit crude-looking. But their actual DNS infrastructure is first-rate, much better than Namecheap's. It looks like they're presently registering domains for $12. (and their website looks a lot better too... not just something a Unix geek would make. :) )

If you want high reliability, I found them to be truly excellent, and I'd use them for any domains that absolutely couldn't go down.
posted by Malor at 12:33 PM on March 1, 2008

I like for registration and dns, but my experience with email hosting wasn't too great.
posted by singingfish at 1:26 PM on March 1, 2008

Response by poster: I decided to trust my fellow mefite, and registered the site with It went well, except for a nasty little php error. The domain is now happily resolving to my webfaction account.
posted by signal at 1:51 PM on March 1, 2008

I'd say Gandi or Dreamhost.
posted by dmd at 2:27 PM on March 1, 2008

Nthing Namecheap. Not the cheapest anymore, but extremely reliable. I have 6 domains with them and have been using 'em since 2003 -- no complaints.
posted by hjo3 at 2:50 PM on March 1, 2008

I'll also throw one in for a little guy -- Baremetal. Small, Canadian ISP and hosting provider with pretty cheap domains, but crazy, insanely awesome service. I moved about 200 client domains there over a two year period, and I can't say enough good about them.

Sure, price is always an issue, but after dealing with a low-cost domain registrar, and almost losing my mind trying to get my domain name back from them, I'll pay a few bucks more for a good registrar that doesn't try to screw me over.
posted by liquado at 5:26 PM on March 1, 2008

GoDaddy has always worked well for me. Their main site/checkout are annoying but management and the like are rather easy and straightforward. Plus, you can do a search around the web and find coupon codes that will get a COM/NET/ORG for $7.
posted by cgomez at 7:04 PM on March 1, 2008

I've refused to use GoDaddy ever since their leader, Bob Parsons, came out strongly in favor of torture on his blog. I don't want to give that asshole a dime.

Plus, they're just kind of shady.
posted by Malor at 11:20 PM on March 1, 2008

I have never had any problem with Domain names, hosting, customer service, etc -- it all works well and is inexpensive. And I've got no problem with Parsons' politics.
posted by davidmsc at 11:55 PM on March 1, 2008

There was a recent discussion about godaddy problems over at metachat. I wouldn't recommend them.
posted by DarkForest at 6:46 AM on March 2, 2008

I'll second 1and1. I have a smallish portfolio of domains with them. I've been using them for two years with no real complaints.
posted by generichuman at 7:46 AM on March 2, 2008

signal - that's awesome (except for that PHP error). I hope you find our services to your liking.

AaRdVarK - I'm right there with you. It's something we need to make happen. We have some changes coming in our next release but I'm not sure if this is one of them yet.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2008

I strongly advise against GoDaddy. Strongly.

I am in the process of losing a domain I have registered with them because of some shenanigans that they pull by giving you "free" privacy registration with a domain registration. You might think, "eh, it's free, I don't have to renew it next time if I don't want to" - but you would be wrong. It turns out that the privacy registration comes from another company, Domains by Proxy (which they happen to own, but that won't help you), and if you didn't get any (or notice any) log in info for this other company, you can't cancel the privacy, and you can't renew at GoDaddy unless you keep paying the privacy fee. Neither can you transfer that domain to another registrar.

Anyway, it's a mess (see here if you want to read more about the same thing happening to another mefite).

I'm going to be transferring my other domains to another registrar, and warning anyone thinking of using GoDaddy. This is a total scam, and now I don't trust them not to cheat me in other ways.
posted by taz at 1:40 PM on March 2, 2008

nth-ing GANDI.

Critically, and unlike almost any other registrar, Gandi's T&Cs contain an unequivocal statement that your domain is yours, and not theirs. I'll carry on giving them a few dollars more for that indefinitely, and it certainly wasn't something Godaddy was prepared to say last time I looked.
posted by genghis at 2:42 PM on March 2, 2008

N-thing namecheap. They're great.
posted by qvtqht at 5:53 PM on March 4, 2008

Just moved from GoDaddy to Namecheap. So far, I love it.

- GoDaddy website is nasty navigating. I'm the type of person who likes clean sites, where you can quickly move around, do your business, and move on. GoDaddy has tons of advertising and it's spread out all across the webpage, not just left corner, side, etc. For a personal domain user (such as myself), who's not constantly moving around domains, buying/selling, or whatever, it's crazy. You have to glance through pages and pages of ads to find out the link to manage Domains. And, the checkout process, ugh.
godaddy sucks
checkout process

- GoDaddy's privacy service requires it's own username. It's very easy to lose this if you don't archive your email and it doesn't seem to be listed anywhere. This proves very troublesome for folks transferring domains away from GoDaddy because they can't remove the privacy easily.

- GoDaddy's known for blocking domain transfers out of their service. If you update your email address or disable the privacy service, they hold you hostage for 60 days. Some folks are reporting better results on this bit recently though (including myself).

- Namecheap's interface is clean and super easy to navigate. Their privacy service (whois guard) is so easy in fact, that I had to write to support about how to modify it's registration details. It never occured to me that it didn't need a separate username!

- Namecheap has responded quickly to my support questions. They don't offer phone support like GoDaddy, but I actually prefer online support. With a High request, at 8am it was responded within 30 minutes. With a medium request, at 4pm they responded within 6 hours. I've read bad reviews about their support process and delays, but I personally haven't had any issues at all. I was a bit thrown back when the High request was answered and closed (without my acknowledgment or signoff), but it was no effort to simply reply, reopen and send it back. They responded so fast between 8am and 9am, it was like sending IMs.

- Namecheap started a community forum linked on their website. That's become another source of support.

- The price for domains was $8.41 using monthly coupon. It includes WhoisGuard free the first year and I think 2.88 or so after that. They also sell WhoisGuard in buckets, so covering 5 domains is 7.88. GoDaddy's Domains by Proxy was $5 for one year, now I think it's $7 and only covers one domain.

Honestly, this is one of the best moves I've made in awhile. A little like when you leave a mistreating employer for a better job with more money, more flexibility, etc. :)
posted by ick at 8:11 PM on April 30, 2008

Oh, if anyone's trying to escape GoDaddy, I had good luck doing this:
1) Went to GoDaddy, unlocked domain.
2) Got Auth code from domain section at GoDaddy.
3) Submitted transfer to Namecheap.
4) Applied Auth code to domain at Namecheap.
5) Waited for confirmation email from Namecheap...
6) Saw error on Namecheap looking up whois info
7) Emailed support for help (High priority)
8) They told me to turn off privacy at GoDaddy and GoDaddy would probably make me wait 60 days. They canceled my transfer request without me asking.
9) Went to GoDaddy, observed domain was still unlocked (good!)
10) Clicked link to Domains by Proxy, username/password failed.
11) Found email from 3 years prior in gmail archive with my username. Password is same as GoDaddy.
12) Disabled Domains by Proxy. Confirmed it, etc.
13) After about 5-10 minutes, the main domain mgmt screen updated and reflected Unlocked and Privacy Off.
14) Re-requested Auth Code. It was the same as before.
15) Back at Namecheap, repeat steps 1 through 5.
16) Email arrived from Namecheap about 4 hours later. Clicked link to confirm the transfer.
17) Email within 15 minutes from GoDaddy. It said if I didn't respond, the transfer would happen in 5 days. It didn't provide a confirmation or anything to make it happen sooner. The only instruction was to tell me how to make it Not Happen. (grr)
18) Back at Godaddy site, logged into Domain Mgr again, under Domains tab you can pick Pending Transfers and Accept/Decline the transfer! Accepted
19) Goddady sent transfer success email. Within 2 minutes, Whois information was updated for namecheap (enom).
20) In about 30 minutes or so, everything was updated on Namecheap's side, too.

So, there you go. My 20-step process to transfer my dang domain out of GoDaddy. After this, I canceled another domain at GoDaddy and since they won't let you remove accounts (online at least), I removed CC and "updated" name, email, address, etc.
posted by ick at 8:27 PM on April 30, 2008

Sorry, I forgot to add that I was most seriously considering 3 registrars after my research:

namecheap (won for interface, support, and efficiency raves)
nearlyfreespeech (I didn't like their interface as much. I don't like the nickel and diming, either. Also, they are more hosting+domain than just domain. I do think they have a lot to offer and they are my second choice.)
gandi (lost due to cost, but I would gladly pay the higher cost for no BS)
posted by ick at 8:40 PM on April 30, 2008

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