Congratulations, you’ve found your next million-dollar domain name — or maybe not, but hey, dreaming is free!
The next step is to find a good registrar where you can register and secure your domain name before someone else does. So what makes a good and reliable registrar? This is what this article will hopefully help you answer.
1. Company Reputation
Before you waste your time exploring the different services and features offered by a certain registrar, the first thing you should do is a quick search about the company to see what other customers have to say about them. This step can be a huge time-saver, especially in case of bad companies with plenty of negative reviews telling you it’s better to pass.
Some registrars are known to provide poor customer support and some are notorious for losing their customers’ domains. I once lost a domain name because the registrar had technical issues that prevented renewal reminder emails from being sent and I had forgotten that it was coming up for renewal. I’ve only known about it after the domain was expired and deleted from my account. Luckily, it wasn’t a developed or a very valuable domain, but I would never trust that company again.
Take some time to search for user reviews on reputable review sites like TrustPilot.com, and forums like NamePros.com.
2. Technical Support
Technical support is one of the most critical things that can dramatically impact your online business. While most of the technical issues your website may likely experience will be on the hosting server side (the web host rather than the domain registrar), several things can also go wrong on the domain registrar side leading to your website going offline.
Whatever technical problems may arise you want to make sure that there is an around-the-clock, professional, knowledgeable and responsive support team you can count on to sort things out.
Good companies offer instant support via phone and/or live chat, which should help resolve issues much faster than regular email support. Another characteristic of a good company is having professional in-house support representatives that have enough technical expertise to solve any problem you throw at them in a timely manner.
On the other hand, some companies outsource their technical support, which often leads to poorer service and lots of copy/paste responses that don’t really help much.
Before you decide on a specific registrar, contacting support via phone or chat with some random technical questions should give you an idea of the level of professionalism and expertise they provide.
Hacked accounts and stolen domains are things that happen quite frequently these days, so you want to make sure that the registrar offers proper security measures to ensure your domains remain safe and secure.
Domain locking is a standard feature most registrars provide for free to prevent unauthorized attempts by third parties to transfer the domain to another registrant/registrar. The domain would only be transferable after it has been unlocked. Some registrars require additional security information for unlocking domains making it harder for unauthorized attempts to proceed.
Also, some companies offer two-step verification/authentication, which requires a password and a security code sent to your registered mobile number for each login. So in case someone manages to steal your password they won’t be able to login to your account because they’d still need access to your mobile phone.
Additionally, some registrars offer optional advanced security features that make it harder to transfer domains out of compromised accounts by requiring several verification steps.
4. WHOIS Privacy
Each registered domain name is required to have its registrant’s (owner’s) personal information submitted and published in the public WHOIS database. This means anyone (including people and bots) can obtain your personal data (name, address, email, phone number, etc.) by performing a simple search of the WHOIS database using your domain name.
Luckily, most of the popular registrars understand the privacy and security concerns that many people have regarding their personal information being publicly accessible, which is why WHOIS privacy has become one of the most essential features offered with domain registration.
By enabling WHOIS privacy, your personal information will be removed from the WHOIS database and will normally be replaced by the registrar’s own contact information. You’ll still maintain full ownership of the domain, but only your registrar will be able to see your personal contact information associated with the domain.
Some registrars offer full WHOIS privacy hiding all of your personal details, and others offer a partial privacy service that only hides/replaces some of your personal details while displaying the rest. This service may be offered for free or for an extra fee.
Note: Not all domain name extensions (TLDs) support WHOIS privacy. Make sure the TLD you choose does support this feature before you place an order if you want to remove your contact information from the public WHOIS database.
5. Renewal Fees
One of the tricky things you need to watch out for when looking for a new domain registrar is that many of them often offer discounted introductory prices for new domain name registrations intended to attract new customers.
The registration prices for different TLDs that are usually displayed on the front page of the company’s website might only be applicable to the first year of registration, and after that, normal prices will apply.
Oftentimes the renewal cost will be displayed next to the discounted first-year cost, but sometimes it’s hidden and you’ll have to look around for it (look for a pricing page).
Also pay attention to any add-on services that may be attached to your order “for free”, which would later renew at full price. For example, you may be offered WHOIS privacy for free for the first year of registration, after which you will be charged the regular yearly price for the service.
Tip: Some companies sell domain names at insanely high prices and provide fewer features than what other cheaper alternatives do. I’d generally avoid any registrar that charges more than $15 for a “.com” registration or renewal.