ӣƵ

BLUEPRINT

Advertiser Disclosure

Editorial Note: Blueprint may earn a commission from affiliate partner links featured here on our site. This commission does not influence our editors' opinions or evaluations. Please view our full advertiser disclosure policy.

The best domain registrars do much more than simply file the required paperwork for your registration. They help you find the perfect combination of name and top-level domain (TLD) for your business, protect your domain from expiring or being attacked by malware and hide the private information listed for your site in ICANN’s public WHOIS database.

The prices charged by domain registrars and the other products they sell vary based on the domain’s TLD, the length of your registration and the hosting services and security features you choose.

Our guide to the best domain registrars identifies the top options for all business needs, from the most secure to the most affordable and everything in between.

Best domain registrars

Why you can trust our small business experts

Our team of experts evaluates hundreds of business products and analyzes thousands of data points to help you find the best product for your situation. We use a data-driven methodology to determine each rating. Advertisers do not influence our editorial content. You can read more about our methodology below.

  • 17 companies reviewed.
  • 13 hours of product testing.
  • 459 data points analyzed.

Best domain registrar comparison

FREE DOMAIN WITH HOSTINGWHOIS PRIVACYFREE SSL CERTIFICATEMULTIFACTOR AUTHENTICATION
Porkbun
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Dynadot
Doesn’t offer hosting
Yes
No
Yes
Namecheap
No
Yes
No
Yes
NameSilo
No
Yes
No
Yes
IONOS
One year
Yes
Yes
Yes
Hostinger
One year
Yes
Web hosting plans only
Yes
GoDaddy
One year, limited TLDs only
Yes
Web hosting plans only
Yes
DreamHost
One year, limited TLDs only
Yes
Web hosting plans only
Yes, except email service
Network Solutions
Most plans
For an added yearly fee
For an added yearly fee
No
Bluehost
One year, limited TLDs only
For an added yearly fee
Yes
Yes

Methodology

We extensively research the key competitors within an industry to determine the best products and services for your business. Our experts identify the factors that matter most to business owners, including pricing, features and customer support, to ensure that our recommendations offer well-rounded products that will meet the needs of various small businesses.

We collect extensive data to narrow our best list to reputable, easy-to-use products with stand-out features at a reasonable price point. And we look at user reviews to ensure that business owners like you are satisfied with our top picks’ services. We use the same rubric to assess companies within a particular space so you can confidently follow our blueprint to the best domain registrars of 2023.

The best domain registrars have positive user reviews on customer review sites and app stores. Domain registrar companies should provide customers with fast and reliable support. Using a combination of phone support, live chat and knowledge bases, customers should be able to quickly resolve issues 24/7.

Domain registrars should allow you to choose from several top-level domains (TLDs), protect your hardware from malware and hide any private information in the public WHOIS database. It should also include email hosting, web hosting and the ability to purchase extensions for other countries.

Domain registrars should also allow for automatic renewals, have monetization tools, have a grace period for renewal and have a domain lock feature.

What is domain registration and how does it work?

Domain registration is the process of ensuring a specific URL entered in a browser’s address bar leads to a site under your control, whether hosted on servers on your business’s premises or through a web hosting service. 

Domain registrars are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has accredited more than 2,000 registrars and resellers. The Domain Name System (DNS) translates into human-readable form the IP addresses that are transmitted from computer to computer as people connect to your site.

The DNS processing takes place on four different types of DNS servers:

  • DNS recursor.
  • Root nameserver.
  • TLD nameserver.
  • Authoritative nameserver.

Benefits of domain registrars

Domain registrars are bound by ICANN’s Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). Their registration services help protect your site and your company’s reputation:

  • Automatic renewals. Domain registrations must be renewed at the end of each term, which is typically one year. Registrars automatically renew your site’s registration. While this feature is usually on by default, you can switch to manual renewals through your domain management control panel.
  • WHOIS privacy. ICANN maintains a public WHOIS database that lists information about the parties who register domains. This information includes the name and contact information of the domain owner and the registrar, registration dates and name servers. Registrars automatically hide private WHOIS information for the domains you register.
  • Phishing and spam protection. Registrars such as DreamHost use proxy servers to shield your true email address to deter malware. The company’s malware removal tool combines several approaches to identify and eliminate threats.

How to choose the best domain registrar

The choice of a domain registrar depends on the features you need and whether you merely want to buy one or more domain registrations or combine registration with other services. Start by determining the range of services you need, and then search for the most affordable solution that meets those needs.

Key features to look for

The first step in registering a domain is deciding the name itself and the best TLD. Many registrars provide AI-based tools that suggest names based on short text descriptions of your site and business. 

While most registrants choose a common TLD such as .com, .org, .net or .info, some organizations may prefer a less well-known extension, such as “.ai.” Prices for TLDs range from $10 to $20 a year at the low end (often with discounts for the first year) to as much as $2,000 a year for extensions such as “.cars” and “.car.”

Once you’ve determined a name and extension, look for these features:

  • Promotions and discounts. Introductory discounts are common among domain registrars, and while most end after one year (often with steep increases in price), some vendors offer multiyear discounts.
  • Domain transfers and forwarding. Domain transfers are usually priced about the same as one year of domain registration for the TLD you choose and may include a free one-year extension when the domain comes up for renewal. They might also provide free domain migration services, as well as domain redirecting or forwarding from the old URL to the new one.
  • Privacy protections. All the registrars we reviewed include WHOIS privacy, which hides your contact information in ICANN’s public database of registrants. Many also bundle SSL certificates with their registrations, although some sell SSL protection separately. 
  • Web and email hosting. Most of the domain registrars we examined sell web hosting, business email and SSL certificates that tie into domain registration. Many include one year of domain registration with their web hosting plans, although with a restricted choice of TLDs.

Add-ons and extras

In addition to domain registrations, renewals and transfers, some registrars offer domain name auctions that let businesses bid on a selection of preferred name and TLD combinations. Examples include “innerspace.com” and “click.io.” The domain aftermarket makes expired domains available for repurchase, backorder or bidding at auction. Companies can also put their existing domains up for auction on the sites.

Registrars offer bulk domain searches and purchases at discounted rates, WHOIS lookup to identify the owners of existing domains, premium DNS services offering enhanced security and site performance and domain broker services for negotiating the purchase of domains currently owned by others.

UX and ease of use 

Domain name purchases start with a search to confirm that your chosen name is available, and if it isn’t, whether suitable alternatives are available or whether the domain could be bought from its current owner. 

Registrars enhance their domain search feature with AI-based tools that suggest domain names based on a short description you enter in a text box. You can filter your name search by industry, price and character length. 

Once a business has purchased its domains, it uses the registrar’s domain management control panel, such as cPanel, to create aliases, add or remove subdomains and manage DNS zones. 

Hostinger’s hPanel control panel is designed as an easy-to-use, graphical alternative to the text-based cPanel. It can be used to manage domains, email server settings and files and databases. In addition to monitoring bandwidth and disk space, the tool lets you park domains and install software.

Customer service

Purchasing and managing a domain requires an understanding of server configuration generally and DNS management specifically. Domain registrars provide self-help support tools such as knowledge bases, FAQs, video tutorials and getting-started guides. 

While some of the services provide telephone support during business hours (Porkbun, NameSilo, IONOS and GoDaddy), most rely on direct support by live chat and email-based ticketing systems (Dynadot, Namecheap and Hostinger are examples).

How much does domain registration cost?

The average initial cost of domain registration for popular TLDs such as .com, .org and .net is between $10 and $25, although TLDs such as .xyz and .store are priced under $2. 

On the other end of the spectrum, some specialty TLDs cost hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars a year to register. These include .auto (available from Namecheap for $2,070), .game (sold by IONOS for $600) and .security (priced at $2,062.23 by Porkbun).

Most registrars that offer steep discounts for the first year of registration have renewal rates that can be more than 90% higher than the initial registration, but others charge the same for renewals of popular TLDs as their initial registration rate. These include Porkbun and Dynadot. 

.COM REGISTRATION: FIRST YEARRENEWALS PER YEARTRANSFERS PER YEARRESTORATIONS/ REDEMPTIONS
Porkbun
$10.37
$10.37
$10.37
$120.00 plus renewal price
Dynadot
$10.19
$10.19
$10.19
$89.99
Namecheap
$10.28
$16
$10.48
$85.88
NameSilo
$13.95
$13.95
$10.95
$75.00
IONOS
$1.00
$17.00
$17.00
$90.00
Hostinger
15.99
$13.99
$8.99
$80.00 and up
GoDaddy
$21.99
$21.99
$10.99
Not listed
DreamHost
$7.99
$19.99
$9.99
$150.00
Network Solutions
$25.00
Not listed
$9.99
$39.99 plus renewal cost (within 43 days of expiration)
Bluehost
$12.99
$21.99
Free for new accounts
$70.00 plus renewal cost

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The only way to make your website accessible to the public is by registering its domain name with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) operated by , the organization that manages the Domain Name System (DNS). But you can’t register the domain yourself. 

ICANN requires that Top-Level Domains (TLDs) such as .com and .org be registered by one of the 2,000-plus organizations accredited by ICANN or by a reseller for the accredited registrar. 

Domain registrars are responsible for a number of registration requirements:

  • They ensure that .com, .net, .name and .cc registrations are filed with VeriSign, which is the official registry for these popular TLDs.
  • They hide the registrant’s private information that’s listed in ICANN’s public WHOIS registry of domain owners.
  • They protect against your domain being hijacked by malware purveyors and spammers.
  • They offer web and email hosting, online marketing and various other business services.

Shopping for a domain registrar requires identifying the services your organization requires and its budget for the services.

  • For startups and firms beginning their websites from square one, the best domain registrar may be one that combines a free year of domain registration along with web hosting services, business email or other services.
  • Other businesses may find that the optimal registrar for their needs is the one that offers the best price for a multiyear registration or one that offers extra levels of security or support. 

Once you’ve completed your needs analysis and considered how domain registration fits with your other business processes, you can compare the services and prices of top-rated registrars to determine the best choice for your organization’s needs.

A faulty domain registration or a failure to properly manage your domain can knock a business offline for an extended period, which is why the first criterion in choosing a registrar is the company’s reliability.

The best domain registrars earn consistently high ratings in professional and user reviews for their transparent prices, accessible support services, security features and ease of use, especially the interface they provide for managing your domain. 

These are some other important considerations in choosing a domain registrar:

  • Price discounts for multiyear registrations.
  • Domain transfer prices and process.
  • Domain expiration policies.
  • Add-on services such as domain parking and extended expiration protection.
  • Fees charged for added services during the checkout process.

Registrars such as Freenom provide free domain registrations and renewals for a very small selection of TLDs, but your legal rights are those of a user of the domain rather than the official licensee, so you don’t have any transfer rights, among other limitations. 

Many web hosting services include one free year of domain registration with their hosting packages. These include Namecheap, IONOS, GoDaddy, DreamHost and Hostinger. However, the TLDs available for free registrations are limited and don’t always include popular TLDs such as .com.

All the domain registrars we examined let you register a domain without purchasing a web hosting package. You can buy domain registrations without having any plans to use it immediately — or ever. GoDaddy is one of several domain registrars that support domain investing, or “domaining.” 

The domain auctions that GoDaddy operates have resulted in prized domains selling for five figures, including laba.com, tulo.com and 5111.com.

Domain registrars often allow you to park your domain. This lets you post a simple HTML page indicating that the site is under construction or provide your contact information or other message. 

Registrants can earn money from parked domains by showing ads on the page that generate revenue when visitors click them. Parked domains can also be put up for sale as a form of domain investing.

ICANN provides a free that shows the site’s registry domain ID, nameservers, registry expiration date and the date the domain was first registered. 

The service also displays the site’s contact information for reporting abuse and the name, email, telephone number, mailing address and WHOIS server. Information about the domain’s technical and administrative contacts is also displayed.

Many domain registrars provide WHOIS domain lookups that show much of the same information as ICANN’s lookup tool, as well as the registrar IANA ID, DNSSEC and the date of the last WHOIS database update for the domain. Note that much of the private information about registrants in the WHOIS record is redacted by the WHOIS privacy feature that most registrars provide for free.

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy. The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Dennis O'Reilly has more than two decades of experience writing about hardware, software and tech services for news outlets, tech sites and educational institutions. He edited PC World's Here's How section for more than seven years and was a founding member of the CNET Blog Network, where he posted hundreds of tips to help people get more out of the technology in their lives. Dennis also was the technical editor for the Windows Secrets newsletter and editorial supervisor for Ziff-Davis's Computer Select service. Dennis is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Empire College School of Law in Santa Rosa, California. He and his wife are long-time residents of the Northern California. When he's not digging deep into the mysteries of 21st century technology, Dennis volunteers as a pro bono attorney.

Bryce Colburn

BLUEPRINT

Bryce Colburn is a ӣƵ Blueprint small business editor with a history of helping startups and small firms nationwide grow their business. He has worked as a freelance writer, digital marketing professional and business-to-business (B2B) editor at U.S. News and World Report, gaining a strong understanding of the challenges businesses face. Bryce is enthusiastic about helping businesses make the best decisions for their company and specializes in reviewing business software and services. His expertise includes topics such as credit card processing companies, payroll software, company formation services and virtual private networks (VPNs).