A domain name is the magic that turns a raw IP address like 126.96.36.199 into a human-friendly chunk of text like Lifehacker.com.au. Here's a look at five of the most popular domain name registrars that help you register and manage your domains.
For the sake of establishing a baseline for comparison, we've noted the price of a one year .COM registration at each registrar beside their name. We'd urge you to read the fine print at each registrar, however, because saving $US3 on a registration isn't much of a bargain if you miss out on useful auxiliary features (like free domain parking, email forwarding, and the like) the slightly more expensive registrar offers. This list also doesn't cover the generally more expensive option of registering a .com.au domain; if you've got recommendations for good Australian registrars, we'd love to hear them in the comments.
Namecheap (1 Year Registration: $US9.98)
Domain registration at Namecheap is economical, as their name implies, but Namecheap hasn't built a name for itself just by offering the absolute cheapest deals in town. Namecheap's reputation rests on fantastic customer service and value-added packages. You get solid customer service, free email and URL forwarding, free and customisable domain parking, free domain transfers, dynamic DNS services if you want to redirect a domain to your home server, and more. You can jump right to their pricing schedule here or read more about their free features here.
1&1 (1 Year Registration: $US4.99)
All 1&1 domain registrations include a simple five-page starter website (consider it a "super" domain parking package), an email account with 2GB of storage, and free private domain registration to shield your personal information. 1&1 also offers free domain transfer. You can view their price schedule here or read more about their domain packages here.
GoDaddy (1 Year Registration: $US11.99)
Go Daddy has built a customer base by offering cheap package deals (combining domain registration and web hosting) as well as frequent specials on domain registration. Go Daddy registrations include what amounts to a free mini-hosting plan. You get a five-page web site based on one of their templates, a photo album, blogging tools, and an email account with 1GB of storage. Although Go Daddy doesn't offer free private registration if you register five or more domains, it's free for all of them. You can read more about their pricing schedule and extras here.
Name (1 Year Registration: $US9.99)
Name.com goes beyond simple domain name searches and offers alternative suggestions including domain names that are currently held but up for auction. While the majority of us are looking to register domains cheaply and quickly, it's good to know that the domain other services would simple flag as "Unavailable" is actually up for auction. Name.com also has a service called Domain Grabber. If you really want a domain but it's unavailable, you can pay Name.com (typically between $US20-50) to pounce on the domain should it become available. If simple domain registration is all you need, however, you can read more about their pricing schedule here.
Ghandi (1 Year Registration: €12/$16.85)
Ghandi's mission as a registrar and host is to offer clean, simple, no bullshit service. Every registration includes two free SiteMaker pages, one free DotClear2 blog, private domain registration, a free 1-year SSL certificate, and a personal email. If you manage a large number of domains, Ghandi also offers a user-friendly dashboard with tag-based organisation and search. You can read more about their price schedule here and free features here.
Want to give an extra shout out to your registrar of choice? Let's hear it in the comments below.