Registering a domain name on the internet used to be a simple matter. After deciding on the domain one wanted, it was a matter of going to Network Solutions' website, paying the $35/year registration fee, and becoming the proud owner of your very own domain.
That was when things were simple. Network Solutions had no competition. There was no competitive pricing. There was one way to do it, and one price to pay. Not any longer.
Over the last several years, a great number of companies have appeared to offer the same services that Network Solutions once had sole control over. These new companies offer competitive rates, simple account maintenance, and even volume discounts. Deciding on which registrar is best for you has become a difficult matter.
First and foremost, it is best to choose a registrar approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). These firms have been authorized to create and sell domain names directly. Choosing a registrar who is not ICANN approved means that you are typically purchasing your domain registration from a reseller, who will use an ICANN authorized registrar to register your domain for you. This is a redundant step in the process, that will typically cost you more. Only an authorized domain name registrar is permitted to access and modify the master database of domain names maintained by InterNIC. InterNIC is responsible for maintaining the documentation on all of the domain names registered to date. InterNIC provides a list of accredited domain name registrars here.
The registrar you choose will determine the cost for registering a domain name, but in general expect to pay a yearly fee. Some registrars will offer discounts if you register for more than one year, but no registrar has the authority to sell more than a 10-year registration contract for any domain name. It is not uncommon to find domain registration services available for $8.95 a year, or less.
Some registrars will offer more than just registration. Many will offer additional services with the registration of your domain which may make up for additional cost in price. For example, a registrar might offer site building tools, domain redirection services and email services for free with the registration of a domain. They may charge more than another registrar, but if these services are useful to you, they may make up for the increased registration fee.
Another consideration when choosing a registrar is their method of domain management. In other words, once you have registered the domain, how do you manage the information associated with it? For the small website owner, one who does not own many domain names, this is not typically critical. But for someone who owns and maintains hundreds of domains, they need a flexible interface. Most registrars offer a control panel type interface for managing domains. This allows you to simply login on the Web and change the information you want changed. Larger users tend to use registrars who offer more robust modification systems, to accomodate large numbers of domain registrations and modifications.
Last but not least, is support. When you need help on how to do something, or there is an issue with your domain, your registrars customer support is quite important. Smaller sites reselling domain registration may not be able to provide the same level of support one of the main registrars could. Check out a registrar's help section for its depth and check how easy it is to find an email address or form to fill out for help.
In summary, there are many domain registrars available to use to register your domain on the internet. With the information above, you should now have what you need to make an educated decision to find a domain registrar that is right for your needs.
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