Once you decide you’d like to launch your e-commerce shop, custom application, your non-profit club or organization’s website, or even a simple personal blog online, you should register a domain name for it. Then select an appropriate hosting service that will allow you the flexibility, control over advertising or not, autonomy, data privacy (for you AND your customers or clients) all at an acceptable price.
It’s astounding to me how many people foolishly set up a “Facebook Page” or a Wix.com page or similar and think they now have an online store! That’s not only giving away complete control to the wrong people, throwing away your revenue and your traffic data, but it looks extremely unprofessional. Get a domain, it’s not difficult!
I’ll be blogging more later about how I choose the hosting services I use, but this post is focused on DNS Domain Registration. Especially why I have continued using DreamHost for this for over a decade, regardless of where my systems are operating.
A lot of people completely misunderstand these and conflate them. Most web hosting companies are also domain registrars and vice-versa. Their ads and marketing materials are designed to fool novices and to take advantage of laziness even for seasoned technology folks.
Registrar / hosting companies all want you to buy both services from them for several reasons:
- They get your money for both services, both of which will be ongoing costs.
- Many of them will tease you with “bundled domain & hosting” discounts, such as “Sign up for our yearly hosting and get a domain registration free!” This is marketing nonsense. Don’t fall for it.
- They don’t want you to do any comparison shopping and realize that they might not be the best fit for your needs or budget.
- This bundling encourages a mindset of thinking that you have to host your website(s) at the same company where they’re registered. This is completely false, but novices especially will tend to fall for it.
- Even if you understand it’s possible to separate these, some companies will still mislead by implying that it’s technically difficult or time-consuming to register one place and host elsewhere. It’s not.
Why I always register domains at DreamHost
I use and enthusiastically recommend DreamHost for all these reasons:
- Their prices always INCLUDE Domain WHOIS Privacy, and it’s enabled by default!! Most other registrars either don’t offer this privacy service at all OR they try to charge you a ridiculous extra annual fee for it.
- Their registration fee (first year and for subsequent annual renewals) tends to be reasonably competitively priced.
- Their systems are well-designed and easy to use. This includes the domain request system, and the DNS configuration you’ll need to use later. In the very unlikely event you’d ever want to transfer to another registrar, their system for that is simple too.
- Registrations get approved and are live quickly — often less than 5 minutes in my experience.
- Several other domain registrars and domain name generating tools run outright scams, including at least one big company with a NASCAR team. This is worth another blog post later for details…
As an example of how the Domain privacy works, look up my “thinkingprivacy.com” domain at https://lookup.icann.org/lookup. You won’t be able to tell anything there about my name, phone, company, address, or even state of residence from it. That information is only viewable if I choose to publish them myself such as on this blog.
Related things you might be wondering:
Q. I heard you can make money by selling an existing domain to someone else who wants it. How can that happen if my WHOIS registration is private?
A. Use the ICANN.org lookup if you didn’t already. Notice the anonymized email and postal mail addresses at Proxy Protection LLC. If someone needs to get in contact with me about the domain, the message will be automatically forwarded to me but in a private way. I know this works because in 2010 we registered several possible names for the company we launched back then. Two of those alternative names ended up being worth $1,000 to a big corporation since they happened to have a word in common with their name. We negotiated the price by email and after they sent us a check, we transferred the registrations to them. Easiest $1,000 we ever made.
The links from here to DreamHost are affiliate links. If you follow the link and then sign up for service at DreamHost I might earn a small commission. However, I and my technology company have been customers of DreamHost for domain registration for over a decade for the reasons described in this article. Several of their competitors pay a lot more for referrals but I’m only recommending DreamHost. Even though they don’t pay any referral fees for customers who only register domains there, this is still my recommendation.