A decade or so ago, if you wanted to buy www.the-name-of-your-business.com, you were more likely to get exactly the domain you hoped for, without having to shorten, abbreviate or misspell it. Your only choice for registering this name was likely Network Solutions or one of its early competitors, and it was not unusual to spend $75 for one year’s registration.
These days, many of the short and grammatically-correct domain names are already spoken for, but registrars are plentiful – and competitive.
Some registrar companies, such as GoDaddy, charge rock-bottom prices or give you your domain name free with purchase of another service. Some still try to charge $50 or more per year for the same service. Shop around if you’re paying more than about $25 – there are plenty of cheaper options out there.
Pain prevention tips:
1. Make sure YOU are the Admin Contact on record. The Admin Contact is considered the owner of the domain name, and you want to make sure ownership of the account stays with you – not with the employee who left last month to work for your competitor. In some cases you can allow a trusted service provider (like your ISP or hosting company) to be your Admin contact if they register the domain for you, but ideally it will be your name and address on record as owner of the domain.
2. Make sure you register using an email address you’re going to keep for a long time. Any communications about the domain will go to the Admin and possibly the Technical contacts on record for the domain, and you want to ensure that you receive them.
3. Set your domain up to auto-renew itself so you don’t accidentally let it expire – this can, and does, cause your website and your email to stop working abruptly. The standard term for a domain registration is one year, although you can choose a longer time period. Buy the longest initial term you can afford and choose the automatic renewal option.
4. Keep your paperwork, including the username and password you were given for the website where you registered the domain. There are unscrupulous registrar companies who will mail you false renewal notices, intending to trick you into transferring your domain name to their (much more expensive) systems. Knowing which company you’re actually dealing with will help you avoid being scammed.
Also, having this information at hand will make things much easier for website developers or hosting companies you deal with in the future.