Startup Tools Series - Part 1 - Domain Registrar

This is the first part of a new series of short posts about essential tools for startups. As a startup, one of the first things that you will want to do is register a domain name and to do that, you will need a domain registrar.

I have registered many domains names over the years through a variety of different providers but for the past two years, I have used only one: Namecheap

Namecheap

Choosing Namecheap was no accident. After becoming frustrated with my previous provider, I did lots of research online and found that Namecheap consistently came top. But why is Namecheap seen as the best domain name registrar?

Reliability

The foremost concern for most people is reliability. If you use the default nameservers of your domain registrar, you want to be sure that lookups are fast and there is zero downtime. Similarly, you want the renewal process to be simple and foolproof. Reliable communication about required actions such as updating your credit card are vital in order to avoid problems.

Namecheap scores highly on both of these criteria. It also has a proven track record. Namecheap has been in operation since 2000 and has over 1 million customers and 3 millions domains.

Cost

Namecheap may not always be the cheapest, but it is usually very close. For the big three TLD's (.com, .net and .org), I have found their prices very reasonable.

Changing registrars is a hassle and if you take care of many different domains, having a single place to administer them is far more important that saving a couple of dollars by moving registrar every couple of years. For consistently cheap prices, Namecheap is a great bet.

Ease of Use

Viewing important information such as renewal dates and DNS entries is fast and easy with Namecheap. You have a single portal and with a single account, you can administer all your domains. Put simply, it takes far fewer clicks to get where you want than with any rival I have tried.

The Namecheap website recently had a nice update but this has not (as yet) extended to the admin screens that you see after signing in. This is a shame because while they are functional, they are not very pretty and are often overly complex. Having said that, Namecheap are still far better in this respect than many other registrars and part of this complexity is a result of the greater flexibility offered.

Features

If you have ever been frustrated by the limited configuration options offered by some other registrars then Namecheap will be a welcome change. You have complete control over your domain and are not restricted by ridiculous company policies (such as the maximum of 5 subdomains with 1and1).

If you use the default Namecheap servers, you have free URL and email forwarding.

Also, when you register a new domain with Namecheap you get 1 year of WhoisGuard for free.

WhoisGuard

According to Namecheap:

WhoisGuard is a privacy protection service that prevents people from seeing your name and gaining access to your address, phone number and email when they do a Whois search on your domain. It puts our address information to the public Whois instead of yours to protect you from potential spam and even identity theft.

More established business may not have any problem with providing your business email, phone number and address (though from experience, you WILL receive spam as a result). For startups, it is slightly different though. When you register your domain name, you may not even have business premises so not having your personal address and phone number publicly available is definitely worth paying for.

Many providers offer some sort of proxy registration service to hide your personal information but WhoisGuard is much cheaper than a lot of rivals, particularly if you buy in bulk or use one of the many promotional codes that appear regularly.

Conclusion

Domain registrars are not a sexy topic. Once you have set up your domain, you shouldn't need to worry about it again until renewal time. But if you choose your registrar poorly, you may find that renewals and cancellations are far more complicated than necessary because of poor UX flow and lack of communication.

Namecheap offers a reliable, reasonably priced service that is hard to fault. Other than an improved admin interface, you couldn't ask for more and I thoroughly recommend that you try them.

Feedback

I am a satisfied Namecheap customer but recommending the best of anything is highly subjective. If you have a better alternative, feel free to add a comment explaining why your choice is better.

Please note that to avoid lots of spam, I will only be publishing comments which are deemed helpful to other readers. Company recommendations without any explanatory text will not be considered.

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