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Ask HN: recommendations for domain registrars
78 points by nezumi on Oct 7, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 115 comments
I need to register some .com domains, and it seems like a service I should be able to get very cheaply. Currently I use 123-reg.co.uk but I'm sure there must be something better out there. I'm also sure going with a cheap provider will likely turn out more expensive in the long run... In case it makes a difference, I'd also like to migrate over a .name domain, to keep everything within one account.


I've used godaddy, namecheap, and 1&1, but ended up switching all my domains to name.com. One of the best interfaces I've used as it doesn't try to abstract the DNS records from you. That was one of my biggest issues with 1&1 and godaddy - their interface made it so that I never knew exactly what my DNS settings were, just what the spoon-fed messages that I was given told me. The only "abstracted" thing that they do is provide a one-click solution for setting the dns entries for google apps (which you can still manually edit, as they appear in your DNS records). Here's some screenshots of the backend:




Seriously, try it. I liked them so much that I paid to have my other domains transfered to them. That alone should show you how much I enjoy it over the others I've tried.

We've been using name.com at work and for personal use for over 2 years.

Its clean, no BS, and just works.

Second, it lets my boss deposit cash as name.com prepaid 'credits'; so, I can act on domain purchases/renewals without running to the accounts guy everytime.

I hear namecheap does the 'credits' feature too.

I switched from GoDaddy to Name.com and almost cried for joy when I bought my second domain name there and it took 10 seconds as opposed to 10 minutes.

I dont really know why any person on earth chooses godaddy

Same for me, I hated GoDaddy. To surf their site form menu to menu it's take more time to load and why people like GoDaddy?

And let's not forget, they don't try to sell you a bunch of products you don't care. I just want the domain!! Lol

Woot woot for Name.com!


name.com rocks mate

The CTO of name.com, Sean Leach, is one of the most knowledgeable and industry-connected DNS guys I know.

I would also highly recommend name.com

I second that

What didn't you like about NameCheap?

The one thing that's started to bother me about Namecheap is that they don't maintain an https (SSL/TLS) connection during record management. My DNS entries' ownership and configuration are important to me, and I'd prefer to minimize the risk of a MITM situation.

Further, I find it somewhat ironic as one of the product classes the company pushes is, obviously and prominently, authorized certificates.

Also, their https connections (login, purchase) are quite often bog slow.

Other than that, I like their service. I'd prefer they fix these issues, rather than finding myself compelled to move away from them.

Second name.com. I'm in the process of transferring all my domains there. Their nice clean interface is so refreshing after years of GoDaddy, they have a non-stupid domain name, they don't waste money on 'sex sells' advertising (wtf do hot chicks have to do with domain names anyway), and they don't treat you like an idiot as you describe. Win.

Seconded. Been with them for couple years for some domains. Been great.

Just recently I launched http://dnsimple.com/ since I was fed up with GoDaddy and decided that I never wanted to use them again in my life, and I knew others felt the same way. DNSimple has an easy to use web interface, a REST API for domain registration and DNS management and an iPhone app. The service is pretty new but the response so far has been positive.

Under the hood I used enom for domain registration and PowerDNS for the DNS portion. enom has the best API of all of the registrar APIs I looked at. To be a reseller there is a bit of an investment, but it's still significantly less expensive than becoming an accredited registrar.

I've been in the domain industry since 1999 when .com was deregulated, and built one of the first domain registrars (but I wasn't the founder thus left when the founder decided to go other directions) and it is unfortunate how little inovation has occurred in the domain industry. Hopefully that'll start changing soon.

Hi Aeden, is there any minimum spend required before registration/hosting API use?

Nope, you should be able to begin using the API immediately upon signing up.

http://joker.com or enom.com for domains

http://easydns.com for DNS (don't be cheap on DNS - most that registrars offer is slow/cheap/bad/down)

I've been using joker.com since the first .com crash, and they've been a reliable, no-nonsense host the entire time. it's about $12 a year per .com or .net, but as I'm not a domainer, the extra few bucks doesn't matter much. what I like is that they don't try to spend a lot of effort up selling you. I can go on their website and do something and be reasonably assured I won't be incurring extra charges.

Same - I have been using the joker + easydns combo for as long as I can remember with both my own projects and client projects. Across all of that usage I have never had a problem.

We use easyDNS. They're not cheap, but they're very good.

pg perhaps you should contact easydns and hookup an affiliation/discount code for yc co's. The CEO is Mark Jeftovic (markjr @ their domain) and he is a good guy.

Ditto on both of these. Joker is great, cheap, and straight forward. EasyDNS has a very nice infrastructure (we use them as secondaries).

Happy joker user here as well. Don't have anything bad to say about them, except that their UI could use a little work.

Gandi.net is my favorite. Decent prices, big selection of ccTLDs, great UI.

I have used gandi.net for years without regret. It is a little bit more expensive but the UI/reliability are great.

(I wish they offered .com.au though)

I use gandi and am quite happy with their UI. BUT don't, DONT open 2 domain zone in 2 tabs to edit them. Gandi don't support that : you will end up making modifications for domain 1 while thinking you are modifying domain 2 !!

+1 on Gandi. A very nice UI, and I like having my registrar outside the US. As a DNS host, it's robust enough, but they don't provide SPF records (~ 6 months since I've looked.)

SPF records are just TXT records, which they do support? I understand theres an actual "SPF" record type also but last I checked its not very widely adopted and the TXT version is exactly the same anyhow.

I bought a domain from gandi.net recently and was very impressed with its ease of use and the speed that changes occurred. All I wanted to do was point the domain at a linode instance and everything was live within minutes. Very fast propagation. Early days, but impressed so far.

http://www.gandi.net/supports/ -> very, very interesting.

Worth noting they also have a very reliable DNS service. Both master and slave.

+1 for Gandi. Great UI, easy to configure, and no problems until now.

Yep, another happy Gandi user here :)

http://godaddy.com/ - Cheap (esp. for just a year, renewals are a bit more) but their interface sucks.

http://namecheap.com/ - Almost as cheap, and has a much better interface.

Those are the two I use exclusively, minus some for ccTLD-specific domains.

Times like this, I wish I could down-vote.

GoDaddy is popular, but it's a terrible service, has underhanded billing, foists misfeatures on unaware domain purchasers, and uses sexist advertising.


I recommend Gandi.net (upvoted the previous submission below).

Price is not the only consideration -- your time is worth something, and the practices of your business partner mean something.

Seconding namecheap. They usually have coupons as well.

3rd recommendation for NameCheap here. I've used them for 4 years, never had a single problem with my domain portfolio. They are 2nd to no one. The bonus is that NC offers their excellent services at the cheapest prices... do a google search for their monthly coupon.

4th recommendation for namecheap. Easy management, no adds or clutter when purchasing, and as the name sugests, cheap.

another recommendation. I have 300+ domains with them. very good control panel, esp for bulk.

again, I love namecheap. All domains are with them

I've been using them for well over a decade. No nonsense, low prices, interface miles better than GoDaddy.

Yet another NameCheap recommendation. Pretty awesome, and a usable -- if ugly -- UI.

+1 Love NameCheap, best I've used.

Their DNS servers is terrible. I've had problems two times over the last year.

A very important reason why I will continue to use namecheap... when a domain of mine expired, it cost me nothing to recover it via namecheap. I had a similar experience with a domain I had registered with godaddy expiring and it cost me $90 for the same recovery of a domain name. I transferred my remaining domains that I had on godaddy to namecheap and haven't looked back.

Similarly, I had some domains which had expired for 2 days, and Namecheap let me renew them at no charge. I am pretty sure at GoDaddy the same thing would have cost at least $10 extra(wouldn't surprise if it is actually $90).

On the other hand, GoDaddy renewals are roughly $3 cheaper than Namecheap, because many GoDaddy coupons work for renewals, but I can never find good coupons for Namecheap renewals.

I've found that if you have a reliable third-party DNS service with a good interface, using godaddy just for registrations isn't that painful. You get to avoid the worst parts of the godaddy interface -- and just need to deal with their annoying upsell attempts each time you renew.

I use godaddy to register my domains, and I use the DNS management I get with my VPS provider (slicehost). I have no complaints.

NameCheap looks interesting but do they have an "About Us" section anywhere on their site?

GoDaddy just increased their prices. I tried to buy a domain a few days ago and it was now $14. My coupons from referral websites no longer work.

I suspect they are increasing revenue as they prepare to sell the company.

I like https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/ for their policies on complaints and DMCA notices.

In my search for a GoDaddy alternative I switched one of my domains over to nearlyfreespeech.net. My only complaint so far is that you have to pay to add money to your account, so the prices they advertise aren't really the whole picture.

Other than that it seems like a pretty decent service, especially if you want to take advantage of their privacy policies, etc.

To their credit, the "25 cent" price tag would really only make sense in a prepaid environment. I kinda figured nobody would charge less than credit card processing fees.

NFSN is attractive in principle, but their management UI is awful. I had a few low-traffic domains registered and hosted there and ended up transferring them elsewhere out of sheer frustration.

Google actually registers domains (in partnership with outside registrars):



The advantage is they come all easily configured for Google Apps usage.

I use this too, although I'm not entirely happy with what a PITA it has been to transfer domains if I sell them or give them to other people.

It's a pretty good deal though, you get a domain with email, apps, etc... built in, all for 10$.

Google Apps standard edition is free. The only thing you're saving here is the 5-10 minutes it would take to switch MX records and verify your domain.

Name.com has this built in as well and they're a proper registrar.

I've taken this approach, as well. Given Google's rather complete lack of individual customer support, I do not relish the idea of trying to get a name transferred away from their registrar, in the event I need to.

I don't have any particular experiences with doing this; rather, I'm just being pre-emptively cautious.

How do you transfer them? I've searched for a while and never saw an option in the customized GoDaddy interface that the Google Apps domains use.

You have to email support and they give you a token which you push into a slot that drops a ball that rolls down a chute, lighting a candle which pops a balloon and so on. I don't recall the details, but you can find people who have done it by Googling for it.

A reseller or partner with enom.com ... at $10 a domain without having the need to configure anything to Google Apps. It is pretty decent. Domain alone purchases alone without coupons/discounts are starting to cost more than $12 these days.

I use moniker, they're pretty good. They got bought out by oversee but the oversee people have seen fit to leave moniker to run as independently as possible.

I use Dreamhost because it's a no-bullshit admin, the price is decent, and I can easily host stuff that doesn't require a VPS or better (which is the majority of my domains) essentially for free.

+1 on Dreamhost. They also throw in free domain privacy so your personal details aren't plastered all over the net.

Dreamhost kinda sucks. My work has a few domains hosted there and their servers have gone down over 4 times in the past 10 months alone. Support is terrible too.

I've had an account there since 2001. I host 25 domains on it. Downtime is rare, performance is better than any of 10 other shared hosts i've used since 1996, and support is well adequate. If you have serious performance issues you can ask to be moved to a different server. Dunno what people expect for $100 / year, but there's not much better than Dreamhost and my anecdotal evidence is worth more than most because I worked for years at an agency that resold hosting to hundreds of clients via various whitelabel and dedicated hosting services not to mention freelancing for dozens of clients.

Another for Dreamhost. For non-critical hosting they're the best I've experienced (in terms of the uptime-service-price compromise).

I've never had any big issues and my small issues are dealt with swiftly.

NameCheap.com is my favorite 'retail' registrar. Their owner goes above and beyond to resolve things. He also is an expert about domains and the quality of their interface and features reflects it.

If you're registering 100+ then Fabulous.com is the best registrar around (though they only deal in com/net/org/info).

Google Apps (http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html) is a eNom reseller, and provides you with all the Google goodness (mail/docs/cal).

1 year = $10 (privacy included).

Well, it makes me feel a bit better, knowing they are reselling eNom.

Is there any route to direct access to eNom, in the event Google (lack of) support becomes a problem?


No fuss, no tricks, non-crappy administration area. They even provide their own name servers for free. I've been using them for years and have no complaints.

Dynadot http://dynadot.com has excellent service, lightning fast website. Working great for my domain names.

I'll second dynadot. I switched from godaddy a few years ago and could not be happier. Website is lean and fast, domain lookups are super fast, and checkout is a simple 1 minute process.

I prefer gandi.net

I love it - modern UI and a convincing tagline, I knew something like it had to be out there! (Thanks everyone for replying though.)

Personally I prefer Godaddy. The interface needs some work but I have found that by using them I get really low propagation delays. Their service is pretty flexible facilitating stuff like privacy and configuring your domains to host their own nameservers.

http://hover.com/ is positioned as the anti-GoDaddy: simple price structure, clean UI.

GoDaddy made it clear they have no respect for the customer with their horrendous UIs and upselling. Felt compelled to leave them recently.

I use enom.com

If you're going to do any quantity of domains above 5 or 6, it's worthwhile.

Stay away from godaddy.com (IME).

I agree on Godaddy.

Enom has a nice interface and good prices, though I don't trust their DNS or email (occasional outages).


- If you just click the "email" select box in the UI, it can drop your custom MX record, even if you don't hit save.

- If you use their DNS hosting for an outside domain that expires, they point to an advertising page and it's hard to make them switch back.

I use enom as well and one of the things I hate about them is the constant attempts at up-selling.

Here is a list of every accredited registrar: http://www.internic.net/alpha.html

Lots of issues to consider beyond price. Go with a US based registrar if you are in the US as you will be governed by their laws with regard to disputes or jurisdiction issues. Some will hit you with hefty RGP (redemption grace period) fees if you miss the renewal date. Domain theft is a becoming a huge issue, so finding a good registrar can be very important for your business.

Moniker.com and NameCheap.com are the best in my opinion with Demand Media's eNom right behind them.

I have long preferred http://namecheap.com for the usual TLDs and (somewhat more recently) http://domainsite.com for many ccTLDs. I very recently transferred an important domain from http://joker.com after inadvertently discovering that an account could be accessed from a machine that I had not previously used to log in. (I copied the session ID and I was on the same network but it was enough to convince me to make the switch.)

Godaddy burned me badly a short while ago, so I am switching all my domains to Netfirms.com. I used to have my personal domain hosted there for free, and I have never had any problems at all with them.

I recommend http://netfirms.com/. Excellent service.

I've got one domain on Dreamhost and one on 1&1 ... both work fine, but Dreamhost's interface is MUCH better than 1&1.

All in all, would you guys recommend keeping your domains registered at a different company than your hosting company? I've considered moving my domains in the future when they expire to a separate domain register, but not sure if it's worth the hassle...

I would recommend to separate:

1. Domains 2. Hosting 3. DNS 4. Email

Don't throw all eggs in one basket... ;)

Any suggestions for registrars of domains that aren't .com/.co.uk/.net/etc.?

I notice that a couple of those mentioned (Namecheap.com, Name.com and Gandi.net) offer this service, but is there a specialist registrar anywhere, or are these good enough?

(I'm looking to register a number of .nl domains and have no idea where to look in terms of quality registrars.)

http://domainsite.com is my go-to for many ccTLDs.

I have always used godaddy (inexpensive) but have recently started using hover.com. Low prices, much cleaner interface. As a +1 to godaddy though, I've noticed in the last couple of days a much better registration interface that still is allowing them to offer their up-sells but is much nicer to get through.

I use inexpensivedomains.com for my personal stuff, and have been very happy with them.

One thing I'll point out though, sometime the lowest prices aren't the most important thing. The domain name people at work have recently chosen to shift all of our domains to a http://www.austdomains.com.au/ account, which is not the cheapest around, but apparently has a _much_ better multiple domain management system than any of our previous registrars. A buck or less extra per domain per year, but it saves a _lot_ of time/money when the management system "just works".

(Note, this is from over-the-cubicle conversations and overheard rants rather than firsthand experience, so don't read it as a personal recommendation of austdomains, rather as a warning that managing hundreds or many hundreds of domains is a different scale of problem from a few or a few dozen, and make sure if you're likely to run into that problem that you consider the suitability of your proposed registrars. I've been happy enough with Intaserve for my .au domains, but my work colleagues _hate_ them with a passion!)

Hm I have a question: What would it take to register the domain myself, without going through goDaddy and others?

Can't one set up a DNS-Server and start propagating records, while perhaps informing the authority that you are using a (previously available) domain now?

To do that, you need to be a registrar. It's not without a good deal of bureaucracy and pain. See http://www.icann.org/en/registrars/accreditation-process.htm

Ah, I see. Thank you for the link!

I am using GoDaddy for m throw-away domains and regfish.com for more specialized TLDs. Regfish has a great, personal service, is based in Germany (how about that for a change ;-) and has decent prices. Great UI, lot less slack than GoDaddy.

Name.com FTW.

I am currently in the process of switching all of my domains from Godaddy to Name.com. The simplicity of the UI, Google Apps integration and reliability of their network made this a no-brainer.

I used DynDNS as a reg for years, but when I wanted to customize the MX record, they wanted another chunk of money - buh-bye!... Probably going to Hover next.

http://iwantmyname.com/ has a pretty cool bulk search option. Simple and clean UI too.

I've found http://domainmonster.com good value, full-featured and reliable.

I've used http://www.1and1.com/ a lot and have had no problems.

I'm very happy using http://dyndns.com for a couple of my domains.

I use NearlyFreeSpeech. The interface is one big PITA, but they're cheap enough and I like their TOS.

How do you guys cover the domain expense for sitting domain? Any recommendations for parked pages?

I've been using namecheap.com for about 7 years and not once have I had an issue with them.

I'm pretty content with hostway. They have one of the lowest prices for domain names, and have a decent interface. They also don't try to upsell any of their other services when you are going through checkout.

I would stay away from 1and1. They have some pretty sketchy billing practices.

Shameless plug: try out http://core.hostroute.com. I personally think our domain lookup tool is the best I've used. I've probably used them all ;-)

I use namespro.ca for Canadian domains (ie .ca)

I've been pretty happy with NameSecure

i love http://domai.nr for searching availability.

Love Name.com

name.com - they are honest, small (i.e. responsive) and do the right thing

joker.com is pretty good.

We've started building a better experience for domain seekers at http://iwantmyname.com.

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