In this article, we’re going to discuss why you should avoid getting your domain with a service provider such as your web hosting company and why your domain name should be in the hands of a reputable and independent provider instead.
Here is a little story that will explain why you want to register your domain with a fair and independent registrar.
A blocked customer
We had a customer who signed up at Woogo Stores, but they got the domain with another company that promised a free domain with a hosting plan. Of course, this is an attractive proposition, so the customer went with it. However, the hosting was just not up to what they expected, and when they wanted to join Woogo Stores, they canceled their hosting plan, which locked them out of the control panel of their domain! ICANN, the regulatory body for internet domains, has a rule that prevents registrar to allows transfers for 60 days after an edit OR a purchase – that’s to avoid a type of fraud.
A transfer was impossible, and they couldn’t point their domain to the Woogo Stores servers. Unfortunately, they had to pay an extra two months at their previous hosting company to do the changes and then transfer their domain to a reputable registrar. Ouch!
A bit of technical background
Let’s get a bit into the technical aspect of your domain name.
A domain, like woogostores.com comes with three main components. The domain name, of course, the nameservers, and the Domain Name System commonly called DNS. If you’ve already registered a domain name before, you’ve probably seen these terms.
Without going into too much detail, the DNS servers are quite literally the phonebook of your domain. It transcripts a human-readable web address like www.yourdomain.com to your servers’ physical connection point on the internet (the IP address). So, for example, it would have an entry like this:
www.woogostores.com -> 184.108.40.206
Where you have the name that a visitor will type in their browser or link they would click, and the actual internet address of where it is.
Of course, this also applies to e-mails! So if you send an e-mail to email@example.com, your e-mail server will consult the DNS of woogostores.com to know where to send the e-mail.
Right, so the DNS is the phonebook of your domain. But how to FIND the phonebook in the first place in the giant library that is the internet?
That’s the role of the nameservers. In effect, the nameservers are telling the browser on what aisle and what shelf to find the phonebook. Great providers have like a super-efficient librarian who will quickly point a visitor’s browser where to find your domain’s “phonebook”.
A high-quality provider will have what we call “Anycast DNS” which allows for increased speed in finding your website across the world and added protection against DNS attacks.
Avoid being locked in
That’s why it’s critical to have high-quality providers for those components and ideally decoupled from your services. Because your domain hosts a whole range of services, like e-mails, CRM, and e-store, it’s crucial not to be locked in with a specific vendor.
That’s why we strongly encourage our customers to register their domain at an independent, reputable registrar, whose specialty is specifically domain and DNS. A high-quality registrar will make it easy for you to change nameservers if you want and transfer your domains.
If you see a deal like “free domain with one year of hosting,” that’s usually a scheme to lock you in – make sure to read the fine prints.
Pay your domain separately, and avoid future problems.
We recommend Namecheap as a great starter registrar, and for 5$ a year, you get their premium anycast DNS, which we recommend you to take. Amazon AWS Route 53 is also a fantastic and cheap option, but not very user-friendly. If you want, we can help you setting up your domain with Amazon.
For enterprise levels, DNSimple is fantastic, with anycast and an API built-in.
This is it! I hope we helped clarify a little bit the Domain, DNS, and nameservers, and why it’s essential to have an independent, robust provider.
If you have any questions about DNS or domains, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please consider subscribing if you’d like to receive weekly tips about how to build a robust e-store.