Where Do I Register My Domain Name in 2021

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So you’ve come up with a domain name and now you’re wondering; “where do I register my domain name?

That’s a great question.

After all, you don’t want to make a mistake that could prove to be very costly for your online business years down the road.

You have two choices when you want to register a domain name for your website – either through a web host or through a domain registrar.

But there are some very important differences between them.

That’s why we’re going to take an in-depth look at how you go about purchasing a domain name so you understand the pros and cons of each approach.

Let’s get to it.

Where to Register a Domain Name

Here are my top choices to register a domain name.

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1. Web host

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Your web hosting company is one of two places you can register your domain.

The vast majority of shared and mid-range web hosts offer domain name registration as part of their sign-up process.

After all, surely it makes sense to simplify things by registering your desired domain name through your web host?

It’s not quite that straightforward though and we’re going to explain why.

Buyer beware

Inexperienced bloggers and affiliate marketers love the idea of registering their domain name with their web hosting provider.

Doing this saves them having to learn about complex technical mumbo jumbo like changing their DNS and setting up administration contacts.

The problem is that registering your domain name through your web host gives them partial control of it because they become the “technical contact” for the domain.

This does not mean that your web host owns your domain name.

But it does mean that if your web host was to suddenly go out of business, suffer from a data breach or data loss, then you could quite easily lose ownership of your domain name.

Permanently.

Do all hosting companies offer domain registry services?

Not exactly.

You’ll find that high-end web hosts like Cloudways and WPEngine don’t offer domain name registration as part of their sign-up process.

They leave that to shared and mid-range hosting companies instead.

Web hosts are also notorious for overcharging for the domain names they provide. So the $8.00 you’d pay elsewhere for a .com through a domain registrar suddenly becomes $15 – $25 when you register it through your web hosting service.

So you’re paying up to 3x as much for the exact same domain for no other reason than convenience.

Yes, some web hosts offer a free domain name if you sign up for at least one year of web hosting, paid in advance.

But that also means you’re now tying your business and your domain name to a company you could end up hating 6 months from now.

And that’s when you’d find out that they make transferring your domain name to another company nothing short of a nightmare.

Web hosts are a viable option for anyone who wants to register a new domain name.

But they’re not the best option and they also have a number of serious limitations which we explain in the next section.

Pros

  • Minimal technical knowledge required
  • Allows you to get your blog set up quickly
  • Less admin work for you to worry about

Cons

  • Far more expensive than a domain registrar
  • You give up partial control of your domain
  • You avoid learning the basics of owning a website

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2. Domain registrar

globe with green background
A domain registrar is the preferred place to register domains.

Your second option for registering a new domain name is with a domain registrar.

This was exactly how everyone used to register domain names, all the way back to 1985 when the first domain name was registered.

In fact, up to 1999, there was only one domain registrar for the entire Internet – Network Solutions.

There are now 900 domain name registrars you can choose from, with GoDaddy being the largest of them.

Registars are simple to use

Registering your domain name through a registrar requires no more effort on your part than doing it through a web host.

You simply search for an available domain with your domain extension of choice (.com, .net, etc.), and then provide payment details.

But there’s an important difference – you retain complete control of your domain name(s).

So even if your web host went out of business tomorrow morning, you would not lose control of your domain. In fact, as long as you keep paying your registration fees each year then you shouldn’t experience any problems.

Domain registrars do include a clause that allows them to delete your domain from their registry if it’s involved in illegal or criminal activity. But if that’s not your “business model” then you have nothing to worry about.

More domain registrar perks

Another perk of registering your domain name through a registrar is that they can also check if it is available for any of the hundreds of domain extensions that exist right now.

This gives you more domain choices and variations than you could ever get with a web host’s domain registration process.

Registrars usually include “brainstorming” tools to help you come up with unique and original domain names.

Web hosting companies don’t offer this.

It’s also worth mentioning that many domain registrars now also offer web hosting packages.

And while it might be tempting to sign up for web hosting through your domain registrar we would advise against it.

Why?

Because the hosting is usually nothing more than cheap shared hosting that has a custom interface (read: Unusable), no hosted email as standard, and runs slowly or constantly times out.

Long story short, it makes far more sense to register your domain name with an actual domain registrar. And register hosting separately. 

It’s just as easy as doing it through a web host but there are far more features for you to use and benefits involved in keeping your web hosting and domain names separate from each other.

Pros

  • Relatively easy to do, even for technophobes
  • Can check hundreds of domain extensions
  • You get tools for coming up with unique domain names
  • Costs far less than registering through a web host
  • You retain 100% ownership of your domain
  • Can be transferred to another web host in minutes

Cons

  • You need to learn how to change DNS settings
  • Slightly more annual paperwork for you.

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Does it Matter Where You Register Your Domain Name?

This is both a “Yes” and “No” answer.

“Yes” because you should do your best to stick with a domain registrar that’s been around for a few years e.g. GoDaddy, Namecheap, or Domain.com.

Basically, don’t trust your domain name with any registrar that appears to offer a deal/pricing that’s simply too good to be true.

Because those deals usually come with the type of red tape that you’ll have years to regret. 

The “No” refers to the fact that your ability to publish content, rank in the search engines, or generate revenue is in no way impacted by where you register your domain.

How Do I Permanently Buy a Domain Name?

You cannot permanently buy a domain name. The annual fee you pay to a domain registrar allows you to lease the use of a domain for your website but not to actually buy it outright.

Registrars have to pay a fee to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) for each domain registered by one of their customers. These fees are then used to pay for the administration costs of running the Internet, including the 13 root servers that underpin it.

If, however, you fail to pay your registration fee, the domain name then goes back into the “pool” of available domains.

You can, however, sell a domain name to another person for profit, but without actually owning it.

It’s just one of the many weird contradictions that you’ll run into when running an online business.

How Long Should I Register a Domain For?

When first starting out, it’s a good idea to only register your domain for a year at a time, but enable the ‘Auto Renew’ feature for it.

At least that way you don’t have to worry about losing control of your domain, so long as the payment method you’re using is valid when the domain comes up for renewal.

You can register a domain for up to 10 years at once, but there’s no real benefit in doing that i.e. you don’t get a discount.

Especially if you decide to either move your site to a new domain name because you won’t be able to get a refund on your 10-year registration fees.

Wrapping It Up

There’s nothing wrong with registering a domain name through a web host.

People do it every day of the week.

Just like they buy their web hosting from a domain registrar.

But you need to be honest with yourself that by using a web host as a registrar you are:

  • Limiting the options available to you
  • Relinquishing a certain amount of control of the domain
  • Exposing your online business to more risk than is needed
  • Spending more money than you need to

Using a domain registrar, on the other hand, gives you full control over your domain, reduces your expenses, and gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of ownership and management.

You will need to learn a little more technical jargon, like how DNS works and how to change a handful of settings.

The final choice though is yours alone.

Our job is simply to explain what options are available to you.

Where are you planning to register your domain, and why? Tell us in the comments below!

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About Matt Collins

With a rapidly growing team of readers, my mission is to teach hungry professionals how to maximize their net worth with scalable side hustles and responsible financial management practices.

My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, 100% true, unbiased recommendations for systems and software I know and trust.

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