In the wake of GoDaddy’s excruciatingly bad SuperBowl ad, hopefully thousands of people are looking for a new domain registrar. What is a registrar and who provides the best services?
First, what is a domain name?
A domain name is a human readable internet address; it is registered to an individual or organization. The registration period can last from one year to as many as 10. The domain name service (DNS) links the human readable name with the IP (internet protocol) address that is the web server containing web site content. A domain name like wiredpen.com is associated with an IP address (188.8.131.52 ARIN & RIPE IP search).
Thus there are two components: domain name registration and site hosting.
The domain registrar manages the relationship with the central registry for a top level domain (like .com or .us). The central registry ensures that a name is not registered twice. The hosting company manages the IP address associated with your web site content on their servers. Your domain registrar may or may not be the same company that hosts your website.
Until 1999, Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) was the sole registrar for the .com, .net and .org registries. A system of multiple registrars launched November 30, 1999 under the supervision of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN endorsed registrars pay a fee to the central registry as well as a small ICANN transaction fee for each domain registered.
In September 2010, GoDaddy’s servers went down hard. In response to GoDaddy’s support for SOPA (they later did an about face), December 29, 2011 was dubbed “Dump GoDaddy Day” . Glenn Fleishman used that opportunity to explain how to transfer your domain to a new registrar.
This list of alternatives to GoDaddy.com is in alphabetical, not ranked, order.
DynaDot operates out of San Mateo, California and offers 37 generic and country code top level domains. DynaDot has partnered with SEOMoz, offering a free 90-day trial. Register domains for up to 10 years at a time.
Founded in 1999, Gandi.net was one of the first domain name registrars approved by ICANN in France to manage.com, .net,.org, .biz, .info, .name, .be, .fr and .ed domains. Gandi has offices in Paris (France), Baltimore (USA) and Vancouver (Canada).
As of June 2011, we manage more than 1,150,000 domain names from 198 countries, which places us as first among domain name registrars in France and sixth in Europe.
Gandi.net manages 240 top level domains. The company also provides web hosting services.
IWantMyName.com will manage the transfer process for you for a fraction of the annual registration fee. That alone is reason enough to use the service; the simple interface is another. The company, located in Wellington, NZ, manages 100+ top level domains. Their renewal process is annual.
Name.com, founded in 2003, operates out of Denver, Colorado and offers more 50 generic and country code top level domains. Name.com provides accounts with access to Google Apps; this makes the service especially great for domains you want for email only. Name.com has a fast domain transfer service tool for GoDaddy. On January 7, 2013, the company announced it had been acquired by Demand Media. We’ll have to wait and see if the service remains exemplary.
The “NIC” in pairNIC stands for “Network Information Center.” Domain Name Registrars were originally referred to as “NICs” (short for Network Information Centers).
pairNIC and pair Networks have measured, reduced, and offset their company-wide carbon footprint. All operations, including data centers, support operations, development labs, administrative facilities, and employee commutes & business travel are 100% Carbon Neutral. Additionally, pairNIC and pair Networks are powered by 100% renewable energy.
pair.nic is my domain registrar; it manages 10 generic and country code top level domains. Not the least expensive registrar on a year-to-year basis but reasonable at the 5-year rate.