Domain Names & DNS

July 29th, 2008 · No Comments

By now even the most net-unaware people are familiar with “domain names.” It is a vital step in creating your online business, as many ideas are made or broken on the domain name they select. We have no fantastic insight in picking domain names; perhaps the readers can suggest some resources. We basically spend our time with a notepad and thesaurus, and just brainstorm. It’s both exciting and frustrating, as you may know.

We often want to just “get started” on our ideas before we’ve found a suitable name for them. In these cases we usually use a service like DYNDNS’s dynamic website service. Basically they have registered a bunch of TLDs (Top Level Domains) and will allow you to create a specific name under those domains for free. So for example, DYNDNS has dynalias.com, which we usually use. So until we come up with a name for our site, we can register prototype.dynalias.com or some such and be able to work on the site. While the service is free, DYNDNS is aggressive about clearing out the names pretty quickly unless you ‘touch’ them by updating.

In the process of trying to find a domain name you may have already interacted with a domain registrar, a service like GoDaddy or Register.com, which provides the service of registering your domain name for you (and usually much more). (If nothing else, you’ve used their web interface to check if your desired domain name was available [it probably wasn't].) So once you’ve found your desired domain name, you now have to choose which domain registrar you want to use.

Historically we have only done low-volume domain registrations. Just one or two here or there, so we haven’t worried horribly about price. However in this experiment, particularly in the early stages, those yearly fees can have a considerable impact on our profitability. Consequently we turned our attention to the lower cost alternatives, and our first question is, of course: Why are some cheaper than others?

The general consensus is that there is no particular reason why Register.com costs dramatically more than GoDaddy. At their base they are providing the same service, which, for a .com domain, costs them roughly $7. So GoDaddy at approximately $10 is not making a huge markup on this service, while Register.com makes quite a profit. In both cases, however, their main goal is to upsell other services (like hosting) for which they have a higher profit margin.

In our experiment one of our goals is to avoid unnecessary charges. We have used several of the registrars and our results have been largely as expected. We have historically used Register.com and have always been satisfied with their results, however for this project we needed a lower priced alternative. So we tried both GoDaddy and NameCheap for our domains.

You can read our preliminary reviews of the services, however neither had any particularly surprising deficits. Once we had registered the domains we needed to set up the DNS entries for them, which we have documented as well. At that point we tested them out and were the proud owners of several new domains: empty lots waiting for us to start developing.

Categories: Main blog narrative · Reviews · Services

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