The 7 Best Domain Hosting Companies in 2020

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Nick Galov

Want to find the best domain name hosting for your website?

Here we evaluate all top domain name hosts to list out the best based on our comprehensive evaluation methodology. 

Pick one and start your online presence!

Our Evaluation Methodology:

  1. We look for all essential domain registration and management features.
  2. We evaluate reputation and support of the domain name providers.
  3. We compare pricing packages and terms, and their restrictions.

Keen to choose the best domain hosting provider? We have it covered here.

When you buy services via links here we might get some affiliate commission. Read more.

Top 13 Domain Hosting Companies

1. Namecheap

Fast Server Response and Affordable

NameCheap is one of the giants of domain hosting because it offers an intuitive interface, expert domain support, and a wide array of TLDs. Instead of flashy discounts and ramping up the price on renewal, it focuses on providing the best long-term price. Free domain privacy forever is the icing on the cake. NameCheap fully deserves the top spot in our reviews.

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Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Uptime

99.99%

Support

9/10

Loading Speed

1.00s

Features

7/10

Things we liked / disliked
  • Great deals
  • Free life-long domain privacy
  • Knowledgeable tech support
  • No phone line

Tucows is a massive domain registrar that only sells domains through resellers and subsidiaries like Hover. Hover utilizes a straightforward interface with no upsells, decent support, and a wide offer of TLDs. It offers some particularly low prices for newer TLDs. It is easily one of the best domain registrars for beginners, as well as those looking for specialty TLDs.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
TLDs:

459 TLDs

Bulk registration:

No

Support:

Solid, but only available during certain hours

Things we liked / disliked
  • Very beginner-friendly
  • Helpful support
  • Many TLDs are extremely affordable
  • Limited support hours

Dynadot works wonders for both single domain registrations and large-scale endeavors. You can take advantage of an intuitive management area, efficient support, and a range of available TLDs. All that comes at very affordable prices. What more could you ask for?

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Product range:

Huge range of TLDs and other services

Bundles:

Discounts for customers who spend over $500

Support:

Decent

Things we liked / disliked
  • Very affordable
  • Bulk discounts
  • Easy to use
  • Choice of TLDs
  • Solid support team
  • Free WHOIS privacy
  • Domain suggestion tools
  • Android and iOS apps are available
  • Onboarding is kind of clunky

4. GoDaddy

A Beginner Friendly Hosting

GoDaddy is a giant among giants. It manages over 78 million domain names thanks to outrageous discounts, aggressive marketing, and even more aggressive upsells. Naturally, massive discounts usually mean higher renewal prices, but you can take advantage of some pretty sweet short-term deals.

Read Full Review
Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Uptime:

100%

Support:

6/10

Speed:

1.25s

Features:

8/10

Things we liked / disliked
  • Massive discounts
  • Lots of TLDs
  • Poor customer support
  • Annoying upsells

Namesilo might be a bit rough around the edges, but it has plenty to offer. For one, the domains are beyond affordable. It’s also easy to use the system, and the support team does an excellent job of tending to its clients. And, if you need to register a large number of domains, you can even get a small discount on each one. It’s an all-round excellent offer.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Product range:

400+ TLDs

Bundles:

Discounts for users with 100+ domain names

Support:

Decent, but the system design feels clunky

Things we liked / disliked
  • Affordable domain names
  • Bulk discounts
  • Decent range of TLDs
  • Attentive support
  • Very beginner friendly
  • Clunky website design
  • Poor support center navigation

Alibaba has a few kinks to iron out, but it offers the best deals by far. HiChina is something like Chinese Godaddy and Alibaba the Chinese Amazon, sans the controversial practices of both companies. Alibaba has few TLDs but makes up for it with some of the best discounts around. Domain registration can cost as little as one cent with the domain renewal remaining affordable as well.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
TLDs:

53 TLDs

Bulk registration:

Yes

Support:

Decent, but some tiers are paid

Things we liked / disliked
  • Best discounts and affordable renewals
  • Easy navigation with no upsells
  • Doesn’t allow you to hide your email through domain privacy
  • Limited free-tier support
  • Lacks some country-code TLDs

With an intuitive control panel, choice of TLDs, and relatively affordable prices, Domain.com nails the basics. The support is alright too. Domain.com offers small initial discounts, but prepaying for several years extends the discount. This makes Domain.com one of the most affordable hosts if you’re looking for long-term domain registration.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
TLDs:

409 TLDs

Bulk registration:

Yes

Support:

Responsive, but poor communication skills

Things we liked / disliked
  • Easy to use
  • Fairly affordable
  • Possible to extend the discounted period
  • Mediocre support
  • Domain privacy might need to be canceled manually

Besides being uncluttered and upsell-free, Gandi.net’s interface also displays tips for new users. It offers 700+ TLDs, many with massive discounts. Add free domain privacy, two email inboxes, and an SSL certificate to each purchase, and Gandi’s repertoire proves impressive. If you can get by without email-only support, Gandi.net is one of the top choices.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
TLDs:

700+ TLDs with large initial discounts

Bulk registration:

Yes, with 10-30% discount on some domain names

Support

Available, but slow

Things we liked / disliked
  • Big discounts
  • Awesome freebies
  • Fairly easy to use
  • A huge number of TLDs
  • Lacks fast support channels
  • Website can be buggy

With an easy-to-use management area, affordable pricing, and a strong support team, there’s little not to like about Porkbun. Heck, the registrar even has an excellent sense of humor. The only complaint is that there’s no 24/7 support. Other than that, the service is stellar.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Product range:

Around 450 TLDs

Bundles:

No bulk discounts

Support:

Awesome, but not available 24/7

Things we liked / disliked
  • Beginner-friendly interface
  • Hefty discounts on some TLDs
  • Free WHOIS privacy
  • Competitive pricing
  • Excellent support
  • Clunky onboarding
  • No 24/7 support

Name.com’s main advantages are being affordable and beginner-friendly. Plus, the range of available TLDs is absolutely massive. That said, the support isn’t perfect and WHOIS privacy is paid. You should take this into consideration before settling on Name.com.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Product range:

520+ TLDs

Bundles:

Some bulk purchase tools

Support:

Mediocre

Things we liked / disliked
  • Reasonably easy to handle
  • Over 500 TLDs
  • Decent knowledge base
  • Substantial discounts
  • Mediocre support
  • No free domain privacy
  • A few upsells

Google Domains is a fresh service by one of the most famous internet companies. It features Google’s signature interface, offers reasonable pricing, and lets you choose from 200+ TLDs. There are a few minor issues to fix, but nothing that significantly compromises the service. It’s an all-round decent choice.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Product range:

200+ TLDs

Bundles:

No

Support:

Kind of slow

Things we liked / disliked
  • Reasonably easy to handle
  • Good choice of TLDs
  • Affordable and straightforward pricing
  • No upsells
  • Somewhat poor support
  • Not available in all countries

Register.com is kind of hit-and-miss. There is a solid number of TLDs to choose from and you can get a number of other services as well. That said, the domain names are sort of expensive and the platform isn’t the easiest to use. It makes it to the top services, but there are better choices out there.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Product range:

500+ TLDs

Bundles:

No

Support:

No 24/7 support

Things we liked / disliked
  • Big range of TLDs
  • Lots of secondary services
  • Well-trained support
  • Very expensive
  • No 24/7 support
  • Domain privacy is paid

Network Solutions is a safe choice ss an established domain host and a domain registration pioneer. It offers decent discounts, but that’s about it as the renewal fees are pretty high, the interface is clunky, and the support is unimpressive. Plus, the company has a few shady (and borderline illegal) practices. Network Solutions is okay, but it needs a serious overhaul to provide a competitive offer.

Key Features Things we liked / disliked
Key Features
Product range:

Offers domain names and DV, OV, and EV SSL certificates

Bundles:

Bulk registration available for domain names

Support:

Fine, but a little slow

Things we liked / disliked
  • Big discounts
  • Plenty of additional services
  • Unresponsive support
  • Expensive domain renewals
  • Overall outdated and shady practices

Domain Hosting - Best Keep Your Domains Safe

Here’s a scenario—you’re looking to buy a domain name.

You need a reliable place to buy domains that offer good value. However, once you find a few, you see they all look alike— just a website with a search box.

So how do you know who has the best domain hosting and who’s an outright scammer?

This is why Hosting Tribunal put together a list of the best registrars in the business. If you’re looking into domain names registration and management, this is the place to start.

The 7 Best Domain Hosting Providers in 2020

1. Namecheap Fast Server Response and Affordable

Things we liked / disliked
  • Great deals
  • Free life-long domain privacy
  • Knowledgeable tech support
  • No phone line
Uptime

99.99%

Support

9/10

Loading Speed

1.00s

Features

7/10

NameCheap is the second-largest domain name registrar out there. It is a strong supporter of net neutrality and has openly taken a stance against SOPA and GoDaddy.

Let’s see if this domain name giant beats the rest.

Ease of Use

You can buy a domain name relatively quickly. NameCheap keeps upsells to a minimum so you can get to checkout without obstruction.

Managing your account is fairly straightforward as well. All the options are laid out in one place, so you can quickly configure the DNS, manage domain lifecycle, or even do a domain transfer.

The only possible complaint is that some domain bulk purchase tools are a bit clunky. This is a really minor thing, though. The fact that this is all I can mention as a downside speaks of NameCheap’s effortless interface.

You’ll have an easy time managing everything, even if it’s your first domain name.

Features

NameCheap has an ever-expanding list of 458 TLDs. It includes all the generic ones like .com and .org and has even newer specialty TLDs like .travel.

NameCheap only lacks some of the popular country code top-level domains like .it and .pl. 

Unlike many other domain registration companies, NameCheap offers privacy protection for free. The freebie is useful, but note that the TLD has to support it.

Another freebie is two months of professional email hosting. You’ll have to pay $9.88 a year to continue using it afterward, though.

NameCheap offers its own VPN for $1.88/month, a logo design tool for free, and resells a bunch of services like G Suite. You can also get  Sectigo SSL certificates at an affordable price—$3.88/year.

NameCheap also doubles as a hosting provider. If you prefer to get domain registration and hosting in one place, NameCheap offers a free .website domain name for as long as you use its hosting services.

Support

Support is available through email and live chat.

There is no phone line. Having phone support would be preferable, but it’s less of a priority with domain names than with hosting services. The support can still work out your issues through the existing channels, though.

The support agents are knowledgeable and can solve domain name-related queries relatively easily. Support does have a nasty tendency to bounce you around from agent to agent, though.

If you’re just starting out, the knowledge base is respectable and easy to navigate. You’ll have an easy time picking up the ropes.

Pricing

The price to purchase domain names always depends on the TLD. With NameCheap, this ranges from $8.88 for a .de domain name to $2098 for .inc.

In general, NameCheap is more affordable than most registrars. For instance, .com domains cost $12.98—$5 less than with GoDaddy.

NameCheap also does you a solid and throws in free domain privacy—not only for the first term but forever.

NameCheap does not offer outrageous discounts on generic TLDs. If you’re looking to buy a .com or .net domain name and let it expire after the first term, a few registrars have better offers.

Otherwise, NameCheap has among the best domain hosting in the long-term, especially if you want WHOIS privacy.

Verdict: NameCheap combines excellent prices, life-long WHOIS protection, and a wide variety of TLDs that can be managed through a functional and pretty interface.

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2. Tucows/Hover

Things we liked / disliked
  • Very beginner-friendly
  • Helpful support
  • Many TLDs are extremely affordable
  • Limited support hours
TLDs:

459 TLDs

Bulk registration:

No

Support:

Solid, but only available during certain hours

Tucows is the third-largest domain registrar.

It only sells domain names through resellers. Hover is both owned by Tucows and is its recommended domain reseller. Which is why they share the review.

It’s generally safer to stay away from resellers. However, Hover is a direct subsidiary of Tucows, which adds credibility. You’re essentially buying directly from an ICANN-accredited registrar.

Just keep in mind that the service may differ if you go with other Tucows resellers—like eNom, which is also a subsidiary.

I’ll refer to the domain hosting provider as Hover to make things simpler. Let’s jump right in.

Ease of Use

Hover’s interface is straightforward. You can navigate the dashboard without trouble. It even adds links to the basic tutorials where you might need them.

There are also no upsells, so you can focus on your work.

A few users did complain domain transfers can be glitchy, which is worth keeping in mind.

Looking at the Hover’s status page, the number of service interruptions is concerning. These are partial interruptions, and Hover is refreshingly transparent about them—it even posts status updates on Twitter—but it’s troubling nonetheless.

It’s among the best domain hosting companies for beginners. You’ll get the hang of managing domains in a jiffy.

Features

Hover supports 459 TLDs, which is quite a broad offer. You also get free domain privacy if the top-level domain supports it—useful for avoiding spam.

Hover focuses on domain names. Apart from that, you can only get a small email inbox for $20/year or email forwarding for $5/year.

That’s it as far as features go. Hover puts all resources towards becoming the best place to buy a domain name. Still, it would be nice if it sold SSL certificates as well.

Support

The support is professional, but only available 12h a day on weekdays and 5h a day on weekends. Not having 24/7 support is a significant disadvantage.

You can contact the team through phone, live chat, or email.

The knowledge base is comprehensive, and the agents are knowledgeable. That said, it can’t entirely make up for the tougher to reach support.

Pricing

The domains’ prices are about average for the industry.

It does depend on the TLD, though. Hover offers surprisingly affordable domain registration for some specialty TLDs.

Hover is a solid domain host that desperately needs 24/7 support to be in the run for the best domain registrar.

Verdict: Hover is a likable domain registrar with good support, streamlined interface, a bunch of TLDs, and fair prices.

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3. Dynadot

Things we liked / disliked
  • Very affordable
  • Bulk discounts
  • Easy to use
  • Choice of TLDs
  • Solid support team
  • Free WHOIS privacy
  • Domain suggestion tools
  • Android and iOS apps are available
  • Onboarding is kind of clunky
Product range:

Huge range of TLDs and other services

Bundles:

Discounts for customers who spend over $500

Support:

Decent

Dynadot is a more compact registrar, at least compared to the likes of GoDaddy. That said, it has been ICANN-accredited for seven years now, and it promises a more seamless experience than that of other registrars.

Let’s see what it does differently.

Ease of Use

For starters, Dynadot keeps its promise of user-friendliness.

It’s relatively simple to find and purchase your desired domain. The interface is clean, and the checkout process takes all of a few seconds. It’s more than obvious where you need to click and what you should do to get a domain name.

Dynadot adds an advanced domain suggestion tool. You can use this to quickly try out various second-level-domains by combining keywords with commonly used prefixes and suffixes. You can even add multiple suffixes and prefixes to one base word.

For instance, typing the keyword “hosting” suggests prefixes like “cloud,” and “my” and suffixes like “hub,” “guru,” “network,” and “factory.”

If you don’t already have a specific domain name in mind for your website, you can try out dozens of different combinations. Dynadot’s system will let you know which are available.

The domain name registrar features no upsells to speak of. Dynadot adds domain privacy to all domains, but this is free, so you might as well use it. The provider also suggests using its website builder. This offer is entirely non-obtrusive, and you might not even notice it.

Dynadot has a pricing table outlining the registration and renewal costs of all TLDs. This covers standard pricing, bulk pricing for users who spend over $500/year, and super bulk pricing for those spending in excess of $5,000/year. You can quickly look up each TLD and know precisely what you would have to pay for your bracket.

One nice touch is that the price table lists the grace periods for renewal and deletion for each TLD (and the redemption fees). With most providers, you would have to ask the support for this info, so Dynadot has a slight advantage over the competition.

Finally, Dynadot has an Android and an iOS app. You can easily purchase domain names and manage DNS records on the go. Very few registrars have this in their offer as of yet, so Dynadot has the upper hand.

One thing the registrar kind of lacks is onboarding. Once you register your first domain, it’s not really obvious what you should do next. You just have to wait for the follow-up email and then log in. It’s only a small complaint, though, and you’ll likely find your way around in minutes.

Dynadot is one of the most user-friendly domain hosting services.

Features

Dynadot offers around 500 TLDs. You can get the standard generic and ccTLDs as well as a bunch of specialty ones. If your preferred extension is not available, you can check out Dynadot’s “launching” top-level domains. The registrar only adds a few at a time, though, so don’t expect a slew of upcoming TLDs.

Domain privacy is included for free with all domains, save for TLDs like .us, which do not allow it by default. Dynadot is one of the few registrars with free WHOIS privacy. This is excellent if you want to keep your personal info out of public records.

Aside from domain-related services, Dynadot offers a website builder, VPS hosting, and email hosting. It’s a pretty decent offer if you want to get multiple services from the same provider.

It’s one of the more extensive services in these domain hosting reviews, all in all.

Support

Dynadot support is available 24/7 via phone, email, and live chat.

The support team does a pretty decent job. Someone usually gets back to you within a few minutes, and they can easily answer all questions about the platform.

The knowledge base also explains how to purchase a domain name and has solutions to common issues. You can easily find decent tutorials if you’re the DIY type.

Pricing

You might assume Dynadot would be pricier because of all the additional tools and free services. In fact, the opposite is the case. The domain prices are some of the lowest out there.

For instance, a .com domain costs $8.99/year to both register and renew. A .io domain would be $28.99. This is pretty much in line with NameCheap, which is one of the most budget-friendly registrars.

Some TLDs, like .xyz, have an initial discount. This doesn’t raise the domain renewal cost significantly, though Dynadot still has cheap domain name registration.

Dynadot spices up the offer with bulk and super bulk discounts for all customers who spend over $500 or $5,000, respectively. This can get you anywhere from $0.50 to a few bucks off each domain, depending on the TLD. The discounts can really pile up if you or your business need to host numerous domains.

Verdict: Dynadot’s offer is pretty darn impressive. You can register a range of TLDs very affordably, and the platform is beyond easy to use. Add bulk discounts to the mix, and Dynadot is excellent for both registering a single domain and handling massive projects.

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4. GoDaddy A Beginner Friendly Hosting

Things we liked / disliked
  • Massive discounts
  • Lots of TLDs
  • Poor customer support
  • Annoying upsells
Uptime:

100%

Support:

6/10

Speed:

1.25s

Features:

8/10

With 78 million domain names under its management, GoDaddy is beyond massive. It is the domain hosting provider with the most power (and influence) on the web.

Although GoDaddy’s company culture deserves an article of its own, I prefer to let the facts speak for themselves. Here’s what the domain name giant has in its arsenal.

Ease of Use

The entire process of buying a domain name is smooth. You can search domain names individually or in bulk, add them to the cart, and you’re all set.

GoDaddy offers two flavors of UI you can freely switch between. One is designed to help beginners get the hang of the navigation. The other is similar to NameCheap’s and lays out all the functions in front of you. Both are fairly straightforward.

However, you do have to put up with upsells and lots of them. GoDaddy constantly tries to make you buy domain names and even automatically adds products to your shopping cart. It even sets the default registration period to two years, although one year is the shortest.

If you can stomach the constant upsells, GoDaddy makes it easy to get around.

Features

With 481 TLDs available and 267 upcoming ones, GoDaddy has one of the most extensive offers out there.

Yet, the domain name colossus is not keen on freebies. Domain privacy, domain protection, and email inboxes are all available, but as paid addons.

If the domain name you like is already taken, you can pay GoDaddy $69.99 to contact the owner and see if it’s for sale.

Apart from domain name services, GoDaddy offers hosting, a website builder, a storefront, a mobile app, and more.

GoDaddy is way more than a simple domain name registrar. You’ll find a host of useful services, but they are usually paid.

Support

Support is available 24/7 through email, live chat, and phone. GoDaddy has phone lines in 51 different countries, so most uses will be able to phone the support.

GoDaddy also has helpful articles in its knowledge base. They are a great help in getting around during your first weeks.

All that being said, GoDaddy has something of a reputation for poor support and deservedly so. The agents are lousy communicators and seem more concerned about upselling you than resolving your issues.

Some clients have also complained about GoDaddy withholding domain names longer than allowed. NameCheap has challenged GoDaddy publicly on this, but it’s tough to tell if GoDaddy was really doing something shady.

The support could be better, all in all.

Pricing

Although GoDaddy seems to be moving away from this practice, its sales strategy is to draw you in with outrageously cheap domain name registration and then ramp up the price upon domain renewal.

To give you a rough idea, a .com domain name would cost you $11.99 in the first year and $17.99 each year after that. A .website domain name is an even better example—it costs $0.99 at first and $29.99 later.

In addition, GoDaddy sells domain name bundles. So, getting the same second-level domain with .com, .net, and .org extensions would cost you 51% less in the first year.

Keep in mind GoDaddy tacks on tax charges during checkout, so the actual cost is often higher than the one in the price list.

Domain privacy is also paid $9.99/year plus tax.

In essence, GoDaddy has decent service, but it’s pricey compared to most domain hosting sites.

Verdict: GoDaddy is the biggest domain registrar largely thanks to skillful marketing and tempting initial offers.

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5. Namesilo

Things we liked / disliked
  • Affordable domain names
  • Bulk discounts
  • Decent range of TLDs
  • Attentive support
  • Very beginner friendly
  • Clunky website design
  • Poor support center navigation
Product range:

400+ TLDs

Bundles:

Discounts for users with 100+ domain names

Support:

Decent, but the system design feels clunky

Namesilo is a relatively large domain hosting site and has over 3 million registered domains. It promises the cheapest domains on the Web (and who wouldn’t want that?).

This is what’s in the mix:

Ease of Use

At first glance, Namesilo’s design looks kind of dated. The registrar did make a few design updates, but it still overall looks like something out of 2015.

Fortunately, the rest of the service is quite up-to-date. It’s fairly easy to look up and register domains. The website is easy to navigate, and all the relevant information is apparent.

Namesilo does sell other services. It will prompt you to purchase a few during checkout, but you can click skip to decline the entire upsell. It is not too bad, but the whole schtick is kind of annoying if you frequently purchase domains.

The price list is easy to find. It contains the standard prices for all the TLDs, as well as active discount information and wholesale pricing.

Speaking of wholesale offers, it’s fairly easy to bulk purchase domains. You can enter one or multiple second-level domains. All you need to do is tick a checkbox next to all the TLDs you’re interested in, and you can add all the domains to the shopping cart. You can even import a domain list from your computer, which can save you tons of time.

Finally, Namesilo even makes it easy to handle domain parking. It can automatically create a simple website for all the domains you purchase, which will present your contact info to anyone who looks up the domain. The service is free, and you keep 100% of the money you make selling domains. It’s a top-notch service that can save you a lot of trouble.

All in all, Namesilo’s interface is straightforward, though the design could do with an update.

Features

You can enjoy a choice of domains with 400+ TLDs in Namesilo’s offer. You can find the full list of supported extensions on the pricing page of the website.

WHOIS privacy gets added to your cart automatically. This is completely free forever, so there are no downsides to taking advantage of it. You can switch it off during checkout if you prefer to buy a domain name under your personal name.

Namesilo also sells SSL security, DNS caching, a site builder, and website hosting.  You get a decent choice of both TLDs and other services with Namesilo. 

Support

Namesilo’s support team can be reached 24/7 via email and chat. There is phone support, but it is only available for six and a half hours on workdays.

Namesilo prefers users going through the chat, which you can always access in the bottom right corner of the domain hosting site. If you need to submit an email query, it’s better to send an email to support@namesilo.com. The standard ticketing system will force you to scroll through the knowledge base.

You can expect a decent level of support. The tech team is responsive and has no issues resolving common problems and answering questions about the intricacies of the products. The agents might not be the most enthusiastic bunch, but this doesn’t take away from the overall service.

Pricing

Namesilo promises cheap domain registration, and it delivers.

A .com domain name would set you back $8.99 while a .dev one costs $12.

Some, like .xyz, can have an initial discount of over 90%. In such cases, the renewal prices still remain competitive, which is always good news.

You can get discounts by purchasing 50+ domains at one time or by having 100+ active domains on your account. The discounts range anywhere from $0.10 to $0.50 per domain.

This system favors users who have many domains under cheaper TLDs. If you are looking into more expensive, specialty top-level domains, a service like Dynadot gives discounts based on how much you pay.

Overall, Namesilo’s pricing is affordable. For some TLDs, it is even cheaper than the best domain hosting companies like NameCheap.  

Verdict: Namesilo is proof that appearances can be deceiving. Despite the rough interface, the web application is easy to navigate, the domains are affordable, and you can get assistance from an efficient support team. Namesilo has a lot going for it, and it’s one of the best domain registrars in 2020.

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6. HiChina/Alibaba Cloud

Things we liked / disliked
  • Best discounts and affordable renewals
  • Easy navigation with no upsells
  • Doesn’t allow you to hide your email through domain privacy
  • Limited free-tier support
  • Lacks some country-code TLDs
TLDs:

53 TLDs

Bulk registration:

Yes

Support:

Decent, but some tiers are paid

HiChina is often dubbed the “Chinese GoDaddy.” It is a part of the Alibaba Group—which is something like the Chinese Amazon. Therefore, its domain hosting services are a part of Alibaba Cloud.

The services are available worldwide, though. Which is why it’s surprising a few online resources address it.

Anyhow, I took it for a spin. Since you actually get domain names through Alibaba Cloud website, I’ll refer to the service as “Alibaba.”

Ease of Use

I must admit, it took me a minute to figure out how to switch the website from Chinese to English. 

From there, the navigation is alright, but some of the top domain hosting services handle it better. The main problem is that there are a few unnecessary steps to the checkout process. The most annoying part is selecting which products in your shopping cart you want to purchase.

Everything else is simple enough. Plus, Alibaba doesn’t annoy you with upsells like many other registrars.

Features

Alibaba has 53 available TLDs. It has the more popular generic ones, but it lacks a bunch of country-code TLDs and many of the newer ones.

You can get domain security for free.

Since ICANN no longer lists personal info in the WHOIS directory, you can’t find out who hosts a domain. Consequently, Alibaba has discontinued its domain privacy service, perhaps prematurely.

The problem is that your email address is visible in the WHOIS directory—anyone can find it and spam you. Alibaba states there are measures to protect you from this, but this claim is a bit dubious.

Alibaba Cloud also doubles as a cloud hosting provider. You can get a multitude of hosting-related services. 

The offer is decent, but Alibaba could improve it with domain privacy and a few more popular top-level domains.

Support

Alibaba has several support tiers. Unfortunately, the free tier is quite limited.

You get phone support for about 16h a day and email support, which is allegedly available 24/7 but can take up to 18h to answer. You can only submit up to 6 tickets in one quarter. 

Support quality is alright, but many of the best domain hosting companies don’t impose such strict limits.

Free support should be sufficient for users with few domain names. Those looking to buy dozens or hundreds of domains might need a support upgrade.

The knowledge base is extensive, but a few articles are somewhat outdated, and the search feature is clunky.

The overall support is a bit hit-and-miss.

Pricing

Alibaba has some impressive discounts. You can get a .xyz domain name for $0.18 (which only covers the ICANN fee) and a .site one for $0.01. If you’re looking for the cheapest domain registration, it’s tough to beat.

When you see discounts like those, you expect steep renewal prices. Surprisingly enough, Alibaba’s domain renewal costs are about average. A .site domain name costs $15.99 to renew—more affordable than at both NameCheap and GoDaddy.

All in all, Alibaba lets you take advantage of some fantastic deals, although the overall service does have a few kinks.

Verdict: Alibaba offers some amazing introductory deals and very fair renewal fees. The support structure is somewhat unorthodox but gets the jobs done.

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7. Domain.com

Things we liked / disliked
  • Easy to use
  • Fairly affordable
  • Possible to extend the discounted period
  • Mediocre support
  • Domain privacy might need to be canceled manually
TLDs:

409 TLDs

Bulk registration:

Yes

Support:

Responsive, but poor communication skills

Domain.com is a relatively large domain host. Although it doesn’t advertise this, it’s a subsidiary of EIG.

Now, EIG-owned companies do have a reputation for declining quality. Let’s see if Domain.com breaks the stereotype.

Ease of Use

The interface is straightforward. Searching for domain names is easy. A sidebar widget even lets you manage items in the cart as you’re browsing the offer.

One kind of annoying feature is that Domain.com adds the first suggested domain name and domain privacy to the cart automatically. This is not such a problem, though, as you can remove them without opening the cart.

In one Domain.com review, a user complained the company keeps charging you for domain privacy after a domain name expires. It’s difficult to confirm whether you really need to cancel domain privacy manually. It’s worth keeping in mind, though.

Domain.com does have a few non-obtrusive upsells. It just suggests services like GSuite before checkout—many users like these services, so this is actually useful.

Features

Domain.com has 409 TLDs in its offer, which is decent.

Domain privacy is available, but, unfortunately, it costs $8.99/year. 

You can also subscribe for hosting, email hosting, and a website builder.

Domain.com advertises free SSL when you register a domain name. This is misleading as the SSL only works if the company is also your hosting provider. Instead of benefiting you, it just locks you in.

Support

Support is available through live chat and phone, which is enough for domain hosting. 

The support agents are responsive but sort of poor communicators. The issue is prevalent with EIG-owned brands. The agents resolve your problems, but it takes much longer than it should.

The knowledge base is respectable and easy to navigate, though. The search feature does its job. I did run into a few broken links, but, apart from that, the knowledge base is useful.

The support is decent, but the support agents need more training if Domain.com is to become the best domain registrar. 

Pricing

The introductory prices are below average for most TLDs. For instance, a .com domain name costs $9.99/year, while a .net one is $12.99/year.

Domain.com doesn’t display renewal rates before you purchase a domain name. You have to contact live chat support for this information. 

The renewal costs are mostly either the same or only marginally higher. .com domains, for instance, cost $13.99 to renew.

Domain.com also lets you register a domain name for up to five years. If you do this, the discount applies to the entire first term. It’s a sweet deal if you know you’ll stick with a domain name.

Verdict: Domain.com is a solid domain name registrar, with decent discounts and easy-to-use control panel. It is in the top ten domain hosts, although it has room for improvement.

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8. Gandi.net

Things we liked / disliked
  • Big discounts
  • Awesome freebies
  • Fairly easy to use
  • A huge number of TLDs
  • Lacks fast support channels
  • Website can be buggy
TLDs:

700+ TLDs with large initial discounts

Bulk registration:

Yes, with 10-30% discount on some domain names

Support

Available, but slow

Gandi has been in the game for a long time—since 1999, to be exact. It boasts integrity and honesty and markets as the good guy in a shady industry.

The company summarizes its philosophy in an NSFW motto (you can see it at the bottom of its homepage if you’re interested). If you don’t mind a domain host partial to raunchy language, let’s dig in and see if Gandi is the best place to buy domain names.

Ease of Use

The domain search tool is fantastic. It displays a long array of domains, has advanced search options, and lists the initial and renewal prices clearly. It even displays helpful tips like special conditions for registering a domain name.

That said, the website is sometimes buggy—for instance, it tends to forever load certain functions. A quick page reload usually fixes the problem, though.

Refreshingly enough, Gandi doesn’t bother you with upsells. It only suggests buying a discounted domain name bundle, which is actually helpful rather than annoying.

Features

If you thought GoDaddy’s 500+ TLDs were a lot, Gandi will blow you away with 700+.

Each domain purchase comes with domain privacy, two email inboxes with 3Gb of storage each, email forwarding, and an SSL certificate for free.

You can purchase domain name bundles at discounted rates. Gandi also has fairly cheap website hosting.

It’s a broad offer.

Support

Gandi doesn’t offer fast support channels. You can only use the ticket system to submit queries (or potentially contact Gandi through Twitter).

Clients are encouraged to find solutions in the knowledge base or community forums.

The articles there are comprehensive, but the lack of both chat and phone support can be a hindrance. Most domain hosting services offer at least one option, putting Gandi at a disadvantage.

Pricing

The pricing is average. A .com domain name costs $15.50/year, which is about standard.

Some domain names are discounted by up to 90%. You can also get a few extra bucks off by purchasing a domain name bundle.

If you take advantage of the discounts, Gandi’s pricing is at the low end of domain name services. 

Verdict: Gandi.net offers the widest variety of TLDs, excellent domain-search tool, and eye-catching deals. It is close to being the best domain registrar, but the lack of phone or chat support takes its toll.

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9. Porkbun

Things we liked / disliked
  • Beginner-friendly interface
  • Hefty discounts on some TLDs
  • Free WHOIS privacy
  • Competitive pricing
  • Excellent support
  • Clunky onboarding
  • No 24/7 support
Product range:

Around 450 TLDs

Bundles:

No bulk discounts

Support:

Awesome, but not available 24/7

Porkbun is a fresh registrar that enjoys a good joke and doesn’t take itself too seriously. If the name of the company isn’t proof enough, just take a look at its about page, and you’ll see what I mean.

Jokes aside, one of Porkbun’s main selling points is making domain registration an easy and smooth experience. Let’s dig right in and examine the claim:

Ease of Use

The overall design of the Porkbun website feels very natural. It’s easy to navigate both the registration part and the domain management dashboard. It takes minimal effort to discover and purchase domain names.

Intuitive domain bulk purchase tools are available. You can enter up to 100 domains at a time into the search tool and see which are available. One nice touch is that you can choose to instantly add all available domains to the cart. This saves you the trouble of sifting through the results and manually selecting domains for purchase. 

One thing that might not be really obvious to first-time registrants is what to do after purchasing a domain. If you’re not sure what to do, you can find a guide in the knowledge base.

This isn’t much of an issue for users who already know all about DNS management. Still, a few pointers for newcomers would make the domain hosting provider even more straightforward.

Porkbun sells a variety of other services, but it doesn’t bother you with upsells. The registrar does state you get an SSL certificate with each domain. That said, this is just a free Let’s Encrypt certificate, so it doesn’t add any real value.

Overall, Porkbun is one of the more user-friendly registrars.

Features

Porkbun includes many of the most popular TLDs. The company supports nearly 450 extensions, so you get plenty of variety in choosing your domain.

All domain names include free WHOIS privacy protection. This adds a bit of extra value if you don’t want your personal info listed in a public database.

The domain name registrar offers other relevant services, including website and email hosting. You can enable email forwarding without trouble as well.

Porkbun mentions SSL certificates too, but this is a bit misleading. It only connects standard Let’s Encrypt SSL, which is free anyway.

That said, you do get a decent range of both TLDs and domain-related services.

Support

You can contact the support through live chat, phone, and email. Chat and phone are only available from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays, which is a disadvantage.

You can both chat with the support and send an email ticket through the chatbox. This makes for a surprisingly straightforward (and quick) way to submit your queries.

The agents handle the job well. I tossed a few tough questions at them, and I got a quick and informative answer each time. Porkbun runs a well-trained team.

Despite all the jokes on Porkbun’s website, the knowledge base is quite a serious repository of helpful guides. It contains no-nonsense tutorials that can help you handle all the critical functions of the platform yourself.

Porkbun could make for the best domain host in terms of support if the tech team were available 24/7.

Pricing

Porkbun’s pricing is relatively competitive.

For instance, a .xyz domain would cost you $0.99 to purchase and $9.18 to renew. A .dev one, on the other hand, starts at $10.78 and renews at $11.68.

In addition to this, Porkbun runs a variety of promotions.

For example, some domains have hefty discounts on a limited number of registrations. To illustrate, you can register up to three .com domain names for $4.15 per domain. The domains would then renew at the regular rates of $8.56. It’s a sweet deal if you want an affordable start.

If you buy domain names with other specific TLDs, on the other hand, you can lock in the promo price. For instance, purchasing a .io domain right now would make it cost $28.97/year for the life of your subscription.

For reference, NameCheap offers an initial promo of $28.88 but renews at $34.88. Long-term, Porkbun gets you a much more affordable deal. These discounts change from time to time, so be sure to take advantage of the offer if you see your preferred TLD on sale.

Overall, the deals are affordable, and the domain privacy adds a bit of extra value.

Verdict: Porkbun is a top-notch registrar. It’s very affordable, reasonably easy to get a grip of, and the support does a solid job. There are still a few kinks to iron out, but it’s well on its way to being one of the best domain hosting services.

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10. Name.com

Things we liked / disliked
  • Reasonably easy to handle
  • Over 500 TLDs
  • Decent knowledge base
  • Substantial discounts
  • Mediocre support
  • No free domain privacy
  • A few upsells
Product range:

520+ TLDs

Bundles:

Some bulk purchase tools

Support:

Mediocre

Name.com is a domain registrar from the US. It has 17 years of experience in the industry and offers a variety of services, domain registration being the flagship one.

This is what the offer looks like:

Ease of Use

For starters, finding a domain name is easy enough. You just have to type it in, click “add to cart,” and you’re good to go.

The domain hosting service recently added sophisticated bulk purchase features. You can search for various second-level and top-level domain combinations, filter the results, and add the ones you want to your shopping cart. Name.com handles bulk features better than most registrars.

That said, you will have to navigate through a few upsells. Most are fairly soft, but the provider will add domain privacy to every domain in your cart.

The privacy is free for the first year, but beware it costs $5/year afterward. It’s not much, but the costs can pile up if you purchase a bunch of domains. Click the “remove advanced security” button at the bottom of the cart page to quickly remove this from all domains

As long as you keep that in mind when purchasing products, Name.com is one of the best domain registrars in terms of ease of use.

Features

Name.com currently has 521 available TLDs, which is impressive. This covers the standard generic and country-code TLDs, as well as a bunch of specialty ones.

The provider adds WHOIS protection for every domain to your cart. While this is free for the first year, you should remember it costs $5 extra after you renew your domain.

Aside from the obvious, Name.com sells a bunch of other services. You can get website hosting, emailing, SSL security, a website builder, SiteLock security suite, and GSuite licenses.

The domain hosting site will try to upsell you for many of these. If you prefer to get all your services in one place, it’s a decent opportunity to do so. Still, even if you haven’t already purchased website hosting, there are more optimal providers out there.

The service range is fantastic, though.

Support

Name.com’s support could be better.

The support is only available during working hours. This means live chat is open for 15h on weekdays and 8h on the weekend. Phone support is only available for 7h each weekday. This, in and of itself, is a bit of an issue, though 24/7 support isn’t the norm in domain hosting like it is in web hosting.

To make matters worse, Name.com makes you scroll through the knowledge base twice before displaying the live chat link and other support contact information. This is one of the most frustrating practices among domain name registrars.

It’s understandable the registrar wants clients to find the solutions themselves if they can. Still, it’s plain annoying, especially when you have a legitimate question and don’t want to jump through hoops to get an answer.

The quality of the support once you get through is okay, but not anything outstanding. The agents can help you with basic troubleshooting, but you can say as much about any support team.

Fortunately, at least the knowledge base is decent. There is plenty of info to help you manage your domain names and resolve common issues.

Overall, however, Name.com’s service is a far cry from the best domain hosting support.

Pricing

Name.com has a massive range of TLDs, all with their own pricing. This goes from several bucks per year to $2,099 for specialty TLDs like .car.

Name.com has a pretty clear pricing pattern – you get hefty discounts when starting out and slightly higher domain renewal prices. The exact cost depends on the TLD, but most have rather reasonable price tags.

To give you an idea, a .com domain would cost you $8.99 to register and $12.99 to renew. You can get a similar deal on other generic TLDs. All in all, it’s reasonably affordable to get a domain name through Name.com.

Name.com has occasional sales on specific TLDs. Sometimes, you can register a domain for a tenth of the cost. It pays off to check from time to time and see if your desired extension is on discount.

Keep in mind WHOIS privacy costs $4.99. This is not ideal, since registrars like NameCheap offer it for free, even with comparable domain pricing.

Even so, Name.com is overall more budget-friendly than most domain registrars.

Verdict: Name.com makes it affordable to purchase domain names, manage domain lifecycle, and it even has occasional massive discounts. Plus, the provider makes it beyond easy to bulk search and bulk purchase domains. Combined with 500+ TLDs, this makes for some of the best domain hosting of 2020.

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11. Google Domains

Things we liked / disliked
  • Reasonably easy to handle
  • Good choice of TLDs
  • Affordable and straightforward pricing
  • No upsells
  • Somewhat poor support
  • Not available in all countries
Product range:

200+ TLDs

Bundles:

No

Support:

Kind of slow

If you’ve heard of the internet, it’s safe to say you’ve heard of Google. Google Domains is just one more in the giant’s wide range of products.

The service is out of beta as of 2020. This makes it a long-term platform, rather than just one more side project from Google.

Let’s dig right into this Google Domains review and check out what the massive internet company offers:

Ease of Use

If there’s one thing you can say about Google, it’s that it knows how to design a clean user interface. Getting the hang of Google Domains is as easy as using, for instance, Gmail, or pretty much any other Google solution.

The domain management panel is uncluttered, and all the essential options are more than obvious. You can make payments, manage DNS, or transfer domains in a few clicks.

There are no fantastic bulk search tools, per se. That said, you can look up specific second-level domains and get a bunch of suggestions. Google lets you filter these by price or TLD and sort them by relevance, cost, etc. 

One issue to point out is that Google will add an available domain to your cart automatically if it’s a 100% match for your search. This is an annoying practice many domain hosting providers are moving away from. It’s odd Google employs it in 2020.

On the other hand, there are no upsells or sneaky offers. Google gives you a clear path to find, register, and manage your domains with no obstructions.

Google makes domain registration as easy as one-two-three. 

Features

Google Domains runs a bunch of TLDs. This covers the generic ones and 200+ specialty extensions.

Many of the country-code TLDs are missing, though. For instance, bit TLDs like .de or .pl are not available. A few popular new generic TLDs like .xyz are unavailable too.

It’s worth pointing out Google Domains is only available in specific countries, which is a severe restriction for many users. You can only register domain names from fifteen locations, so you should check out the list here and see if your country of residence is supported. You can register a domain if you have a legal billing address in one of the listed countries.

Domain privacy comes with all domain names (as long as the TLD supports it). This is completely free, letting Google compete with the leading providers like NameCheap and Namesilo that offer the same.

Unlike most registrars, Google Domains is strictly a domain provider. You can’t get products like SSL and website hosting with domain registration services. This is not really an issue unless you are really set on getting all your tools in one place.

One thing to point out is that Google Domains is rather fresh, even though it’s officially out of beta. Even though domain registration can be profitable, the product will likely never be a top priority for Google. What’s more, Google is known for discontinuing services that don’t pan out.

Now, there’s no telling what can happen to Google Domains, and you won’t lose your domain names if Google does decide to pull the plug. Still, going for the service is a bit of a risk. You might need to transfer to a different domain registration company if Google does back out.

All in all, Google Domains is a bit hit-and-miss in the features department.

Support

Even though Google is one of the top internet companies, most of us have never actually communicated with one of its employees. Well, Google, in fact, does provide 24/7 support for its domain tools. You can contact it through all the standard channels.

If you need to reach the support, your best bet is to go through email or schedule a callback. Although this is a bit slower than live chat, the channels are typically worked by more experienced support employees.

As for the live chat, the agents are kind of slow and poor at communicating. A company like Google should really have better chat support.

The knowledge base is minimalistic, but it does have answers to all the most common questions and issues with the domain hosting provider. It’s as extensive of a self-help center as any out there.

Pricing

Google Domains offers prices that are about the industry average. A .com domain costs $12/year. A .us or a .dev domain would cost the same. This makes Google Domains a bit pricier than low-end registrars like NameCheap, but way more affordable than, let’s say, Register.com.

Google Domains keeps its pricing straightforward. There are no initial discounts, and you can’t take advantage of a lower price by registering a domain for an extended period.

It’s not necessarily a disadvantage since Google offers cheap domain name registration as things stand. Still, having a bulk discount would make it more attractive for bigger projects and companies.

In general, Google Domains makes registration cheaper than most of the competition.

Verdict: Google Domains is a decent provider. You can get domains on Google’s robust nameservers quite affordably. Plus, the registrar offers a hefty number of TLDs and makes it easy to register and manage domain names. Still, the registrar is a bit of a risk, and it isn’t available in all countries. You should assess the platform’s limitations, and see if the offer works for you.

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12. Register.com

Things we liked / disliked
  • Big range of TLDs
  • Lots of secondary services
  • Well-trained support
  • Very expensive
  • No 24/7 support
  • Domain privacy is paid
Product range:

500+ TLDs

Bundles:

No

Support:

No 24/7 support

Register.com is an ICANN-accredited registrar with over 2.5 million hosted domains. It was in the first five registrars to enter the shared registration system, making it one of the oldest domain registration companies.

But, enough about history. This is what its registration services look like today:

Ease of Use

Unfortunately, Register.com doesn’t start very strongly here.

For starters, the domain search is fairly clunky. Looking up domains with specific extensions, like .com, automatically adds the domain name to your shopping cart. This is just annoying and unhelpful.

To make matters worse, you can’t see the price to purchase domain names before they’re in your shopping cart. There is no comprehensive price list anywhere on the website, which is just ridiculous.

What’s more, Register.com prompts you to create an account before opening the cart page. You can skip this last step, but it makes it unnecessarily difficult to see the price of a specific domain.

One good thing is that Register.com doesn’t overwhelm users with upsells. The provider will ask you if you want WHOIS protection for your domains, but this is kind of expected.

Still, it hardly compensates for the overall poor user experience.

Features

Despite its faults, Register.com offers quite a range of TLDs. There is 500+ to choose from, which is a way more than most registrars have.

Domain privacy is available. It costs $3/month and is discounted to $1/month for the first year. Be aware this is a monthly price and not an annual one, as most registrars charge. This makes the service way more expensive than that of even the top domain hosting companies.

Register.com has a range of other services. You can get SSL security, website hosting, a proprietary website builder, email, and email marketing tools.

It’s a reasonably comprehensive offer, but the domain privacy add-on is beyond expensive.

Support

The support is available from 7 am to 12 am on weekdays. You can reach it through live chat, email ticketing, and phone.

Register.com can’t really boast instant response times, but the support team does tend to get back to you relatively quickly. On top of that, the agents are very informative. They had no issues answering all my questions during testing.

Still, having the support there 24/7 would improve the overall impression.

Pricing

The domain hosting provider makes it nigh-impossible to make a comprehensive price comparison, as it has no price list. Even if you want to bulk purchase domains, you would have to check the pricing in the shopping cart.

That said, the overall prices are higher than average.

For instance, a .com domain name costs $25 for the first year, while a .biz domain costs $32. Both go up to $39.99 on renewal.

This is outrageously expensive. The initial prices are even higher than what GoDaddy charges for renewals, and the domain renewal costs are way too high.

You can get a discount by prepaying for a longer period (up to 15% if you pay for 10 years). This isn’t enough to compensate for the high costs, though.

Verdict: Register.com has a long-standing reputation, but it is struggling to keep up with the best domain hosts. The UI is clunky, and the pricing is hardly competitive. There are better registrars to choose from in 2020.

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13. Network Solutions

Things we liked / disliked
  • Big discounts
  • Plenty of additional services
  • Unresponsive support
  • Expensive domain renewals
  • Overall outdated and shady practices
Product range:

Offers domain names and DV, OV, and EV SSL certificates

Bundles:

Bulk registration available for domain names

Support:

Fine, but a little slow

Network Solutions used to be one of the leading registrars in the early days of the internet. Unfortunately for the company, it has fallen behind its competition along the way.

For 8 years now, it has been a subsidiary of Web.com. Together, they boast one of the largest user bases out there.

Let’s see if Network Solutions has what it takes to catch back up with the best domain hosting of 2020.

Ease of Use

You don’t have to be an expert to notice Network Solutions’ website design is dated. Granted, the design doesn’t always correspond with the quality of the service.

Unfortunately, Network Solutions still uses some old school practices that ruin the user experience. For instance, a keyword search automatically adds the top suggestion to your cart.

You can also expect aggressive upsells. Network Solutions will ask if you want hosting package to go with your domain name. Whichever option you choose, you’ll find website hosting and domain privacy in your cart. These are listed as free, but the free trial lasts only a month.

Opening the shopping cart as a guest prompts the upsells every time. If you keep checking the  cart, it quickly gets cluttered with “free” hosting plans.

Network Solutions is far too ungainly for one of the biggest registrars out there.

Features

Network Solutions offers 10 generic, 70+ country code, and a host more specialty TLDs. It’s a solid choice.

Besides domain names, you can get domain privacy, hosting, email hosting, website monitoring, SSL certificates, and a lot more. You don’t get any freebies with the domain name, though.

The offer is decent. Network Solutions is a legitimate choice when considering where to buy domain names.

Support

Network Solutions reserves email support for some services, but not for domain names. You can only contact support by phone. Unfortunately, you might wait up to 48h for a callback.

The knowledge base redirects to Web.com. You can find articles on resolving Network Solutions’ problems there.

The navigation of Web.com’s knowledge base could be improved. Searching for “top-level domains” yields 900+ results, many having nothing to do with TLDs.

The support quality is fine, but the best domain name registrar should have near-instant response times.

Pricing

Network Solutions doesn’t list prices during domain search. The introductory fees are usually in the $2-3 range, but this is just the initial cost.

Renewal for .com, .net, and .org domain names is $35—twice as expensive as GoDaddy, which is one of the pricier registrars. A .io domain name is even more expensive—$79.99.

Domain privacy is $9.99/year on top of this.

Another thing that’s not obvious is Network Solutions charges about $20 for a domain transfer. You can’t take advantage of the low initial price and then switch to a more affordable provider.

All things considered, Network Solutions is far from a cheap domain registrar.

It’s a safe choice, considering its years in the industry and millions of domain names. Still, you can find far more lucrative offers among the best domain registrars.

Verdict: Network Solutions used to be a top dog in the domain registration business, but it’s fall from grace continues with outdated interface, dubitable marketing practices, and poor support.

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How Domain Registration Works – The Infrastructure

Purchasing website domains might seem simple, but a lot goes on behind the scenes. Here are the key players in the domain name game.

ICANN manages the internet’s entire domain name system. In essence, it sets the rules for everybody else. Only an ICANN-accredited registrar can register domain names directly.

Now, you can’t buy a domain name directly from ICANN. Doing everything would be too much for the corporation, so it delegates management for the top-level domains to registries.

Each domain registry is in charge of managing one or more TLDs. VeriSign is probably the most notable example—it manages .com and .net TLDs, among others.

You can’t get a domain name directly from a domain registry either. Registries let various registrars sell domain names under their TLDs.

Registrars are sort of like domain name supermarkets. Instead of going to several registries to purchase domain names under different TLDs, a registrar can sell you domain names under hundreds of different TLDs.

There is a complicated system in place to ensure this all works and that no two people register the same domain name. This is a topic deserving its own article, though.

For now, suffice it to say these are the main channels domain name registration goes through.

The Importance of Picking the Right Domain Name Registrar

If you’re just starting out, it might not be obvious why finding the best domain hosting matters. If the domain name is the same, why should you care who sells it to you?

The problem is that domain names are a service rather than a product. Being able to renew the domain name and manage it properly depends by and large on your registrar.

Can you imagine what would happen if Facebook lost its domain name? The company might lose billions.

But you couldn’t possibly lose your domain name, right? 

Actually, just at the beginning of this year, ICANN shut down AlpNames—a registrar with 700,000 domain names—for dabbling in shady business. Hundreds of thousands of users suddenly had no access to their domain names for days on end. If your domain name expired in the meantime… well, who knows.

Granted, this is an extreme case. But various website domain hosts have been involved in all sorts of shady practices.

A bad registrar can make it difficult for you to switch providers. It can even keep your domain name hostage if you miss the renewal or ramp up the renewal prices. A few providers have increased the price of specific TLDs by as much as 3000% in a single day.

The list of things that could go wrong goes on and on.

This is why it’s advisable to review the registrars with a reputation for transparency and find the best domain host from those. Spending a little time to find a proper service makes your life easier in the long run.

How to Choose the Right Domain Name Registrar

I’ve outlined the best registrars above. Of course, there are other quality registrars. Here are a few actionable tips on picking the best domain registrar when you do your own research.

Go for ICANN-accredited registrarsWith a few exceptions, it’s generally safer to get domain names from a registrar than a domain reseller. A list of all ICANN-accredited registrars is freely available, so check if your registrar of choice is in it. 

The more TLDs, the better—Going for a registrar that has your preferred TLD is a no-brainer. Which is not to say you won’t experiment with other TLDs down the road. It’s best to get a domain registrar with a TLD-rich offer from the get-go. 

Check the prices—The pricing difference between TLDs or registrars might seem negligible if you get a single domain name. However, if you buy multiple domain names, the price difference can quickly snowball to a few hundred dollars a year. Better safe than sorry is the motto.

Easy navigation is king—This is more about convenience than anything else. You’d be surprised how many registrars make a mess of their websites. Check out the interface and make sure you can find all the essential functions before you purchase a domain name.

Can you transfer away?—A registrar can’t legally stop you from transferring to a competitor. What it can do is make the process a massive pain. Check the terms of service. If the registrar can wait an outrageous amount of time before it relinquishes your domain name, find a different registrar.
On a side note, it’s illegal for a registrar to charge you for releasing your domain name. If your current registrar tries to charge you for the domain transfer, you should contact the domain registry in charge of the TLD. The registry will typically enable the transfer for you. 

Don’t compromise on support—The more domain names you have, the higher the chance you’ll need help fixing something. A provider should offer 24/7 support, preferably through multiple channels. 

What are the additional services—Registrars rarely restrict their offer to domain names alone. You can often get web hosting, email hosting, SSL certificates, and a bunch of related services. These are a bonus, though they are not a necessity. Just make sure the domain name registrar doesn’t bug you with upsells.

Go for the reputable registrars—Reputation can be challenging to put your finger on. All registrars have favorable and less than favorable reviews. Still, if you see a variety of different sources commenting on shady activity, you might want to avoid that registrar.

Conclusion

You now know the world’s top registrars and what makes a good domain host. Feel free to compare the prices of various registrars and TLDs and see which registrar has the best offer for you.

Common Questions about Domain Hosting

Is Google a good domain registrar?

Google Domains is decent and has lots of additional services for a young registrar. It offers decent support and lets you buy a domain name without annoying upsells or costly renewals.

The problem with Google Domains is not available in all countries. Google has been known to discontinue such services. Even though Google Domains is officially out of beta, caution is advised. 

Google certainly has enough resources to become the best domain registrar. However, it’s not the safest choice yet.

How do I buy a domain name forever?

You can’t own a domain name. You do not deal with ICANN directly, so you can only register a domain name through an  ICANN-accredited registrar.

The longest period you can register a domain name for is ten years (though this depends on the TLD). When the domain name is close to expiry, you have to renew it. Some providers do have a registration gimmick where you can prepay for as long as a hundred years. In such cases, however, the registrar would register your domain for 10 years and keep renewing it every ten years for the length of your subscription.

This might seem risky—what if something goes wrong in the domain lifecycle and you cannot renew the domain name?

Well, registrars are legally obligated to notify you about upcoming expiry.

Even if you don’t receive the emails for some reason, the registrars typically allow a grace period and a redemption period to renew a domain name. You should have enough time if you forget about the expiry date. Just keep in mind that going into the redemption period usually incurs a redemption fee.

Still, the grace period depends on a number of factors like the TLD. Compare domain hosting registrars and their terms of service before getting a domain name. 

Some companies with extremely valuable domain names (like Google.com) bypass this process by doubling as their own registrar. Becoming a registrar is expensive, though, so it’s not a viable option for the average registrant.

Should I buy domain privacy?

Without domain privacy, your email address is listed in the WHOIS directory. The problem is that the info is public, meaning anyone can find it and spam you as much as they like.

Domain privacy stops this by displaying the info of a domain name registrar (or another email and snail mail forwarding service) instead of your personal details. This means you can still get the relevant emails you get while avoiding spam or unwanted phone calls.

Yes, by all means, get domain privacy. It’s invaluable in avoiding spam. Just keep in mind some providers charge extra for the service.

Can I buy a domain name without hosting?

Absolutely! While hosting and domain names often go hand in hand, and many companies offer both, these are two completely different services.

Many experts even advise against getting both domain and hosting services from the same company. The argument is that the company that hosts both your website and domain name could make it nigh-impossible to change providers.

This is unlikely to happen with reputable hosts, but a little extra caution never hurts.

Which is the best place to buy a domain name?

Domain registrars are tough to evaluate. Being a good registrar is more about not getting anything wrong than doing anything spectacular.

You should look for a straightforward service that doesn’t overcharge you and isn’t involved in any shady stuff. All the registrars in the reviews above fulfill those conditions reasonably well.

The pricing among them differs and so do the extra services they provide. Feel free to check them out and see which has the best domain hosting for you.