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Domain Registrars
Short Comments
by Rick Smith (August 11, 2006)

I reviewed several registrars "in-depth" within Searching for the best Domain Registrar. The article you are now reading attempts to provide some key information about other registrars, but in a much shorter format.

The registrar's names are in no particular order.

Dotster.com

If you make a change to a single domain you can replicate the change from the owner to the billing, administrative and technical contacts. When you attempt to change multiple domains, you now need to make the change FOUR times, once for the owner, once for the administrative, once for billing and finally once for the technical contact. It is these type of inefficiencies that cost you time (and money if you pay an employee to make the changes).

Once you select a group of domains that you wish to change, you are presented a list of the chosen domains with an empty checkbox in front of each one. While it appears that you must manually reselect each member of the list again, I found out that you really don't have to check these checkboxes to make changes to them. Why Dotster doesn't display each domain with a checked box, I don't know. Apparently the checkboxes are provided to allow you to remove some of the domain names from the list you previously selected. Assuming that you wanted two attempts to chose a list of domain names, A more logical user interface would be to uncheck an existing checkbox to remove those that you no longer wish to change.

Update (08/2006) Dotster radically altered their user interface and it is much, much better.

Galcomm.com

They combine the concept of the "contact record", but also allow changes "on the fly". Unfortunately, they have no way to tell which changes should really be saved and which ones contain errors. Therefore, you end up generating more contact records to choose from. Since only the name and organization is shown, and these "contact records" can't be deleted, this feature isn't as useful as it could be. If they providing another screen to allow deletion of unneeded contact records, this system would provide a nearly perfect setup for both owners of single domains as well as owners of multiple domains.

They do provide a demo account that you can log into without setting up your own account.

The odd characteristic I noticed is that they flashed a $7.45 renewal price on their home page, but when I checked out, the price was $9.95. Apparently, $7.45 is a "transfer-in" price and therefore good only for your first year.

EV1servers.net
(formerly Rackshack.net)

You can EASILY move domains between accounts here. It is almost a trivial change and it should be. How you "package" your domains should NOT be a legal process as it is at some other registrars (Godaddy). There is no paperwork to fill out, no legal contracts -- you are simply arranging your domains into different "containers".

Unfortunately, this "ease of use" concept didn't make it to domain locking and you have to individually lock each domain manually -- too bad!

The biggest problem is that you must pay for each year of each domain in a separate credit card transaction. While this takes far longer than it should (canceling the low cost), it triggered a FRAUD alert on my credit card, which caused one of my credit cards to become inactive. Hopefully, they create a better way this year or else I will transfer many of the domains away, in spite of any savings.

Update: EV1Servers was a reseller of Tucows and it was rumored that they were going to be their own registrar. Now it appears that they are no longer accepting any new domains.

Godaddy

Godaddy used to have one of the fastest methods of entering nameservers. You would enter NS1.XXX and the next field would appear as NS2.XXX automatically on the screen during entry. They even allow 13 nameservers -- the maximum allowable. Unfortunately, during their latest redesign, this wonderful feature was removed from their site. (This is a case of trading functionality for slickness. I guess slickness is winning because they say that they are the top registrar. They are also one of the few that charge an extra "ICANN fee" of 25 cents per domain year -- none of my other registrars do this.)

Onlinenic.com

Onlinenic.com is a wholesale registrar who has very few "retail" customers. They have a sliding scale of domain pricing from $7.99 down to $6.79 depending on how many domain years you purchase. The great feature is that the pricing level is cumulative and after selling/using about 25 domain years, the price becomes $7.49. Of course you can pre-buy 100 domain years for $679 to obtain the lowest price immediately.

Sign-up is unusual as it involves faxing your actual signature before you are able to buy any domain years. The process took a few days, so give them time to set up your account -- it isn't as instantaneous as I would have liked.

The beat part of using Onlinenic is that you don't have to get your credit card out each time you want to do a transfer or buy a new domain, because you already have "credit" through prepayment. Renewals are the fastest of any registrar -- a few clicks and your renewal is done because the credit card step is completely eliminated.

While their user interface is functional, it is rather crude when compared with other registrars. Not only do they require a company name, but a fax number is required for each contact.

Onlinenic can transfer the "registrant" name from the previous registrar and this field is static and you cannot change it yourself. Update: Onlinenic has changed this and you can change the registrant yourself using another screen.

Since I have set the company name to blank at other registrars, it required a support ticket to make changes because there database checks to see if the registrant's name is filled it and if blank, all changes are rejected.

Transfers automatically fill in your account information, so you cannot have one email address for all your Onlinenic accounts and one for your domain registrations. Therefore, fill in your account information to the default that you want each transferred domain set to. They also enforce a +1.XXXYYYXXXX format for all phone numbers, but NOT on your account screen. This requires you to make changes on each new domain that is transferred. Why they don't use the same field verification code, I don't know, but again, their user interface is not as slick as most registrars.

At Onlinenic, you are getting access to inexpensive registration. They also include code that allows you to set up domains on your own web site, but I have NOT configured this and have only used this registrar for transfers and some new domains.

Support is unusual because several times they ask for specifics that were already covered within the same ticket, like the specific domain name that you are referring to. Since I had only a single domain transferring it should have been obvious, even if they didn't see the name specifically mentioned in the beginning of the trouble ticket. (I would advise mentioning the domain name each time you reply to the trouble ticket. I also believe that English is not the primary language of many of the support staff.) I have found that response time varies from 24 to 72 hours. A support California phone number is provided, but that results in a recorded message that explains that a spammer gave out this phone number and they have been deluged with calls. Email and their "Help system" is your ONLY means of support.

They have recently added a revenue sharing plan for parked domains, but I have yet to see any money result from this.

Their site is fully functional, but is simply not as slick as other registrars. They are slowly improving, but low domain cost is their key feature.

Maxipoint Servers

These resellers have an unusual marketing concept. For $24.95 a year, you get a domain name and a 25 Meg shared Linux webserver with POP3 email. You can set up your own email addresses, FTP accounts and even shell accounts. It is a wonderful and inexpensive way to have access to a Linux server.

Registration is not very friendly or well integrated, but it can be done. Since they are reselling the domains, during the registration process you are sent to different web sites and it seems that you have to type in the same information over and over again.

They provide a single email 10-20 days before your domain expires. It appears to be a manual process because I received reminders on the same day for 2 different domains that expired 20 days apart.

Since they are a reseller, you really don't have easy access to your Whois information. There is a delay between your changes and when the Whois is updated. For several months one of my domains had no useful information in the WHOIS. Because ICANN appears to be trying to remove blank or false domain information, I pushed hard to get this to be changed. Currently, one domain under my control has waited for nearly a week to get the domain locked.

Based on this and because I almost lost my domain (since it appeared to have been renewed automatically), I would definitely make sure that you renew over a month in advance.

Server support is good, but the technicians are not native English speakers. Support is via a reasonable on-line help system. The techs do appear to be quite knowledgeable about Linux and were able to explain why my first Perl program didn't function properly. Yes, the server is capable of CGI and you have access to MySQL.

Be sure to back up the server information yourself. During the past year they used and older Ensim interface that was quite functional. For less that what some registrars charge, you can get a domain, web server and your own email accounts.

I would not suggest this registrar to an absolute novice, since you will become your own Linux administrator and will need to configure users and manage them. The Ensim user interface helps quite well, but you need to have a concept of what you are doing. I think if you can make it through the registration process, you will probably be able to configure this server for your needs.

Update: This site went through an ownership change and in doing so this plan was eliminated. As an "improvement" (at a much higher cost) they substituted a larger plan. I felt it best to transfer, but first I had to get control of the domain. After a few attempts at an "internal" transfer, it worked (Maxipoint is a reseller of Onlinenic. When they "dropped" a domain and wanted far above the going rate to retrieve days after expiration, I created an account with Onlinenic and it was quite inexpensive.) Support seemed to wane before the ownership change as well.

Registerfly

This Enom reseller is the only registrar that I had to contact my credit card company to obtain a transaction reversal and get my money back. I submitted over 30 pages of documentation to the credit card company, consisting of the trouble tickets showing that I had tried to resolve problems with them for several months. Undaunted, they still send marketing emails about their "specials".

I received full credit from my credit card company and based on this personal experience, I cannot recommend this reseller. If you need further details about the specific problems that I encountered, please contact me directly.

NameCheap.com

This is a low cost reseller that has a reasonable database and quite reasonable pricing ($8.88/year). I have had some problems with their software, but have received a prompt reply (generally from the owner) within a day that completely resolved the issue. I would recommend this reseller. (In the interests of full disclosure, I have recently transferred 2 domains away from NameCheap to Onlinenic to save money (and use my credit at Onlinenic).

When paying for a registration at NameCheap, you might want to copy your credit card number from another source (text editor), since their credit card field doesn't allow spaces. How hard can it be for a CGI program to remove spaces from a numeric field? (Show me a credit card that doesn't have spaces on it.)

Conclusion

I hope that gives you an overview of some other registrars that I have worked with over the past few years. Some of my gripes may be trivial, but they caused me to waste domain in the relatively dull process of domain management. Buying and bidding on domains can be fun, but I complain about anything that slows down the domain renewal process.

Don't forget to check out my "in-depth" review of several registrars titled Searching for the best Domain Registrar.

Copyright 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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