Best Domain Registrars 2021
A good domain name registrar is key to building your online brand presence and setting your company apart from its competitors. Big or small, new, established or well-known, every company needs one.
Choosing the right name can be difficult but also valuable as it requires a deep understanding of your opportunities and the constraints you’re dealing with. You need to find a name that is available, isn’t obvious and, has relevant keywords.
Although it may seem like a trivial matter, choosing a domain name can have a big impact on your company’s ability to succeed on the web. The poor choice of name can cause you all sorts of problems, especially if it’s an existing brand name you’re attempting to protect or a new company that needs to be easily found.
In this review, we will walk you through what a domain registrar is, how it works, how it’s different from web hosting, and five of the best domain registrars available in 2021.
What's on This Page
What is domain registration?
Essentially, a domain name is a part of what your customers will be typing into their URL bar when trying to go to your website. Some memorable examples are “facebook.com” or “google.com.” When you have a domain name that’s easy to remember, it will help your customers locate your website tremendously.
So once you’ve settled on a domain name that represents your brand, you’ll then need to register that name with a domain registrar before you can use it online — much like how you need to be registered as a married couple with your partner before you can file taxes together. A domain registrar will then register your domain name with an organization called ICANN, which manages domain names globally. This process helps ensure that there are no duplicate domain names anywhere and that you’re the only official recognized owner of your domain name.
Typically, domain registrars also offer services such as privacy protection, website builder, and web hosting. Some companies even offer a bundled, one-stop-shop kind of offer. Choose your domain name wisely though because many providers don’t issue refunds!
How does domain registration work?
We’ve mentioned above that when you purchase a domain name from a registrar, it is then registered with ICANN, but let’s take a look at how things work on the technical side. When you enter a domain name in your web browser, a request is sent to a global network of servers that form the Domain Name System (DNS). These servers then search for the name servers associated with the domain and forward the request to those name servers.
These name servers are computers that your hosting company manages. Once these computers find the web page and pieces of information associated with the page, they will send the data back to your browser. Therefore, the more traffic your website receives, the more powerful your server needs to be.
How is domain name registration different from a website and web hosting?
Think about it this way: a domain name is the address of your website (like your home address), whereas web hosting is where your website lives (like your actual house). Your hosting company has servers (very powerful computers) that stores all your website’s files.
For a website to function properly, however, you need both domain name and web hosting. Imagine a postman trying to deliver your packages but don’t know your address — they won’t know how to reach you! It is highly recommended that you get both your domain name and hosting from the same company so you can easily manage them at the same time. That said, if you buy these two services from different companies, all you have to do is edit your domain name settings and enter the name server information provided by your hosting company.
Top 5 Rated Products
Best for creating your first website
Bluehost is one of the biggest hosting companies out there. They are an official WordPress hosting partner, which is especially great if you’re creating your very first website — installing Bluehost on WordPress only takes one click. Bluehost offers web hosting services alongside domain name registration. Let’s take a closer look at its features:
Easy domain name search
When you’re deciding which domain name to use, you can use Bluehost’s search system to see if someone’s already using that domain name. Bluehost will provide alternative options if your first choice isn’t available.
Privacy and protection add-ons
Along with your domain name purchase, you can add domain privacy and protection via Whois. This helps keep your personal details away from the public eyes.
You’ll have the option of auto-renewal with your Bluehost plan, so you don’t have to manually renew your services or risk having your domain names lost to someone else.
Bluehost is easy to set up and use. Their domain manager allows you to easily buy, track, transfer, and update domain names.
Bluehost sells the .com domain at $12.99 per year and .org at $9.99. Shared hosting plans start at $2.95 per month, and depending on your plan, you may even get a free domain. 30-day money-back guarantee available.
Help is available via phone and we’ve heard that Bluehost responds very efficiently!
Best for price
When a company calls itself Domain.com, you know that you can trust them for domain name registration services. Domain.com has been around since 2000 and has become one of the most popular registrars out there. You can register all top-level domain name extensions (TLDs) and dozens of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). Domain.com offers a lot of top-notch features:
Domain name search
Quickly search for a domain name so you know if your desired name is available. Domain.com will show you premium domains as well.
Wide variety of domain management tools
Not only does Domain.com offer free Whois privacy protection that replaces your personal contact information with theirs, but it also offers other helpful features such as name transfers, easy DNS management, email account, and email forwarding — to name a few.
An additional layer of security
To further prevent identity theft and protect your site from unauthorized access, use Domain.com’s SiteLock feature to get regular malware scans and blocklist prevention.
Excellent customer support
Help needs to come at the right time, regardless of what time of the day it is. Domain.com offers 24/7 customer support via live chat and email. If you’d like to research your issue first, feel free to use their extensive knowledge base for helpful guides.
Domain.com is great when you just need a domain name, without web hosting. A .com domain only costs $9.99 for the first year. That said, they do have shared hosting plans that cost $3.75 per month for 12, 24, or 36 months.
Best for data privacy
When you first start out as a beginner, you’d want a reliable provider that can provide both domain name registration and web hosting services. GoDaddy — one of the oldest and most popular domain registration companies — is many people’s go-to choice. In fact, the provider is so popular that they manage more than 77 million domain names for over 18 million customers worldwide. GoDaddy offers competitive prices as well, sometimes even a big discount on your first year of domain registration. Some more features that we think are important to share:
User-friendly management interface
A transfer domain name, change name servers, update contact information, manage bulk domain renewals, and customize other domain settings on your dashboard.
Free domain privacy and protection
Like many other providers, GoDaddy offers free Whois domain privacy and protection with any domain purchase. If you want to be extra safe, there are plenty of upgrade options as well.
Being a large-scale provider, GoDaddy has a wide array of products available, including bundled deals with web hosting. If you need help at any time, GoDaddy is reachable by phone.
In order to enjoy GoDaddy’s competitive prices, you’ll have to commit to their services for a longer period of time. For example, a .com domain costs only $11.99 for the first year, but this price tag will quickly rise to $18.99 in year two. And you can only enjoy the first-year price if you pay for two years up front. If you want their website builder services instead, you can get a plan for as little as $6.99 per month.
Best for unlimited hosting
Founded in 2000, Namecheap is another popular domain name registrar that provides comprehensive services at competitive prices. It now manages more than five million domains, and the platform offers some smart features to make its users’ lives easier. These include:
Powerful domain search
Imagine searching for a domain name and realizing it’s been taken — and repeat 50 times. That’s a massive waste of time! Namecheap understands this pain, and therefore allows you to search in batches of up to 50 names. If the domain you want is taken, you can offer to buy the domain from the current user via DomainAgents. If the name is available, you’ll see it displayed across four tabs: Popular, New, Discounted, and International. These groupings make it easy for you to browse and find what you need.
Great connection speeds
Compared to other domain names and web hosting providers, Namecheap has been shown to offer above-average speeds in testing. Combined with the great prices they offer, this is a great deal.
Unlike GoDaddy, Namecheap tells you their current and renewal prices clearly in your shopping cart. Auto-renew is initially turned off, so you don’t get accidentally charged for services you’re not ready to get yet.
Easy access to customer support
Namecheap is committed to its 99.9% connectivity guarantee and is super easy to set up. Their initial welcome email will tell you everything you need to know, such as their helpful FAQ pages and an excellent searchable knowledge base. But if you need immediate support, their live chat is only a click away!
As the company’s name suggests, Namecheap offers some pretty cheap deals for domain names. Bundled deals start at as low as $1.58 per month. Using .com domains as an example once again: they cost $8.88 initially and $13.98 on renewal. This is significantly cheaper than what GoDaddy offers.
Best for unique domain extensions
Unlike the more traditional domain name registrars that gear towards .com domains, Porkbun is a more modern provider that offers unique domain extensions to website owners who are willing to have some fun with their domain names. Porkbun has over 200 extensions for you to choose from, and guess what? They offer the lowest registration cost compared to other providers! Here’s why Porkbun is great:
Hundreds of extensions available
Porkbun knows that it’s hard to come up with unused domain names in this very saturated digital space, so all you have to do as a Porkbun user is to search keywords. Once Porkbun knows what you’re looking for, they will show you a bunch of new and trending domain extensions. Examples include .reviews and .studio. With these unique extensions, there are literally countless ways you can design your URL.
Free extra features
Along with any domain name purchase, you get free privacy and protection such as Whois and SSL certificates. You will also get URL forwarding and trials of Porkbun’s site builder, web hosting, and email hosting services.
Since Porkbun’s targeted domains aren’t super sought-after like .com, it’s possible for you to snatch some great deals for your creative domain name. A lot of their extensions are actually available for under $8 for the first year. For example, the .shop extension starts at $2.04 for the first year, then $26.85 per year after that. That’s a steal!
If you want to secure your unique domain name for a longer time, you can opt to purchase for up to ten years upfront. You won’t be able to enjoy their jaw-dropping first-year prices, but the yearly average for ten years may turn out better than their renewal pricing! For bundled plans, they start at $30 for the first year then $120 per year.
Our Rating Process
There are many quality domain registrars out there, but we’re here to help you pick the right one. We have assessed 5 products based on pricing, privacy, customer support, and additional capabilities. Each of these criteria will receive a score out of 5 points so you know where these providers stand among their competitors.
This is an obvious one! There are many expenses to owning a business so ideally, you’d pick a domain registrar that is economical. But that doesn’t mean you should settle on providers that are subpar. Cheap monthly plans could mean expensive renewals. Domain extensions may cost more.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many domain registrars out there, and while we can’t tell you exactly which one is “best,” we can tell you that Domain.com is popular for their good prices, Bluehost for seamless bundled deals with web hosting, GoDaddy for privacy, and Porkbun for unique domain extensions. Make sure you choose a domain registrar that fulfills your needs!
A reliable domain registrar is one that you can rely on for secure services. First, you should be able to search domain names so you know if the one you know has been taken. Next, it’s pretty much industry standard to receive Whois privacy protection, which hides your personal contact information. Lastly, reliable domain registrars should have a customer service (best if 24/7) that is available to answer any questions you have or problems you encounter. A seamless end-to-end user experience is key to becoming a reliable domain name registrar. !