Registering a domain name is one of the first things new businesses need to do when they're setting up. And that means dealing with a company that dispenses domain names; a domain registrar. Registrars verify that the name you've chosen isn't the same as someone else's and they manage the renewal process. Often, they bundle domain name registration with other services such as web hosting and cloud-based email. So, who are some of the better domain registrars out there and what should you look out for?
Before you get started
There are lots of companies out there that offer bundled services. For example, you can hire someone to develop your website and sort out all the hosting and domain management for you. While that's convenient, particularly if you're not au fait with how it all hangs together, it can create hassles down the line.
With the domain registration, ensure that you have full control of all the account details. I've heard plenty of horror stories from small businesses that have trusted their web developer with everything. But when they try to move to another developer, or the one that started with closes up shop, they lose control of their domain.
And while they can eventually get control back, in some cases they may not even know who the registrar is.
So, regardless of what approach you take, make sire you have control of all the appropriate passwords and other account details.
Be a smart shopper
Pricing for domain registration can vary markedly. Some registrars are very adept at trying to up-sell extra products and services with domain registration. While $10 a year sounds good for a year of registration for a .com.au address, some try to add in extra domains such as .com, .net or .org. And those are sometimes offered at inflated prices.
It's the domain registration business' version of "Do you want fries with that?".
Look out for shysters
When the time comes for domain name renewal, there have been scams where registrars try to hijack each other's customers. Often, this happens with an official-looking letter in the post (one of the steps in domain registration is providing a postal address) reminding you your domain is expiring with a form to complete for renewal.
If you do that, the domain will be transferred to a different registrar, often at hugely inflated prices.
Registered domain registrars
Australian domains are administered by AusRegistry. For the list of registrars I've looked at, I've chosen five from those registered by AusRegistry. But you can look at the other 36 registered registrars they have on their books.
Initial .com.au registration: $35 for two years
Other options: Transfers from other registrars are free, also offer .com, .nz and some specialised domains such as .travel
Other services: Web and email hosting, URL forwarding, SSL certificates and Weebly website builder
Cheaper Domains offers a wide range of services and, although they're not the cheapest, they are less expensive than many other domain registrars when it comes to .com.au registration. They offer the popular Weebly platform for creating a website so you can create a simple website yourself without having to lash out hundreds to a professional designer for the creation of a bespoke site.
Initial .com.au registration: $7.99 per year with two-year minimum
Other options: Domain transfers, domain valuation and auctioning
Other services: Web and email hosting, URL forwarding, SSL certificates, website builder, online marketing
GoDaddy has developed, over the years, into a solid full-service provider of online services. Their domain registration process is easy to use. And while their full-service model inlaces website hosting, email, and pretty much anything else you can think of when it comes to your business' online persona, they do try and budge extras in.
While they offer reliable services, be aware of the fine print as you go through the registration process as you may find some fries added to your burger on the way through.
One year .com.au registration: $153.98 for two-years
Other options: Full range of international domains as well as specialised domains such as .travel and .xxx
Other services: Web and email hosting, URL forwarding, SSL certificates, website builder, online marketing, Office 365, web and mobile app development
Melbourne IT may be changing their name to the Arq Group so, if you go looking for them and find yourself looking at the Arq Group site, don't be alarmed. The company;s products are firmly picked at the big end of town. Prices are substantially higher than others who are more focussed at the personal and SMB markets. But they also offer a full global service with registration in dozens of countries and you can pre-pay for up to 10 years of registration.
Initial .com.au registration: $69 for two years
Other options: Some overseas domains and a limited number of specialty domains such as .biz and .info
Other services: Web and email hosting, URL forwarding, SSL certificates, website builder, DNS hosting
I've had domains registered with Enetica in the past and they were pretty good. But their pricing was a tad higher than I was prepared to pay given my needs were quite simple. Pricing is higher than the budget end of the market and they have maintained a simple and conservative approach to the services they offer. One neat feature that many others charge extra for, but is free from Enetica, is URL forwarding.
Initial .com.au registration: $14.95 per year
Other options: Some domains such as .biz and .info as well as city-based domains such as .melbourne and .sydney
Other services: Web and email hosting, SSL certificates, website builder and marketing
Netregistry offers a wide range of domain registration services but they do add a $15.95 per year fee if you want access to their Domain Manager tool in case you want to access services like domain redirection and the ability to edit domain records - which is important if you use different companies for domain registration, and email and web hosting. But the costs aren't over the top and Netregistry enjoys a solid reputation in the market.
Do you have anything to say about the five listed above? Can you recommend a good Australian registrar? Make your case in the comments below.