Most of us don’t think in terms of who our domain registrar is, since we just package it in with whichever web host we’re planning to go with.
However, did you know that most web hosts are just resellers for dedicated domain name registrars?
Domain name registrars themselves are the ones accredited by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is the main body which manages the entire global Domain Name System. Nevertheless, buying a domain name today is fast and simple.
So, is there any difference who you buy your domain name from? Of course! When you buy a car from a dealership, the dealer is free to carry out promotions, give freebies and negotiate – within reason. Domain names undergo a similar process and there will be times when some promotion or other even lets you grab one at prices as low as 99 cents!
Also, each place you consider buying your domain name form has its own quirks as well. Let’s call them pros and cons. Finding the right fit for you in terms of pricing and other features can be as complex as choosing your web hosting company (which WHSR has already made simple for you – look at our list of top web hosts).
WHSR is affiliated to and receive referral fees from both GoDaddy and NameCheap.
Is GoDaddy or NameCheap the Better Company?
Naming a better domain registrar is not easy, but before that, let’s take a little look at these two companies. Namecheap has almost two decades in the business and has built its name from bottom up. Today, it’s one of the most recognized web service providers in the world, having sold more than four million domain names. Aside from domain names, it runs the whole gamut of services including web hosting, email hosting, Cloud-based services and more.
Similarly, GoDaddy is also an industry stalwart, having what it claims to be more than a 30 percent share of the domain name business. It has sold an eye-raising 59 million domain names and too provides all web services needed by the budding online entrepreneur.
With that, let’s see what they have to say about their domain name services.
1. Domain Transfers
If for some reason or other you’ve found that there is a need to move to a different registrar, then worry not, the process is simple all round. I recently had occasion to shift one of my domain names from 1&1 Hosting for reasons I’d rather not get into, so I still recall the process.
No matter your registrar, you’ll need to be able to do a couple of things:
Unlock your domain name ownership
Apply for the transfer and pay the transfer fee to your new registrar
Generate an authentication key on your existing host and paste that into your future host’s control panel
After that it’s just a matter of waiting for approval for the transfer to go through, which takes approximately five days. Make sure you take note of restrictions in domain name transfers though.
According to ICANN regulations, domain transfers cannot be made within 60 days of registration or prior transfer (.au excepted).
2. Contract and Pricing
There are a few different elements about pricing that you need to know about when choosing a registrar; pricing, renewal and transfer. Many registrars often have promotions in domain name sales, so let’s look at what’s on offer now.
How much does GoDaddy cost?
GoDaddy runs at $17.99/year for .com domains and $19.99/year for .net domains.
GoDaddy is currently having a $2.99 promo on .com domains, but before rushing out to take them up on the offer, be aware that the domain renews at normal rate ($17.99/year) after the first year. If you’re not buying, but transferring to GoDaddy, then expect to pay $0.81 and get a one-year free extension on your lease.
However, the strange thing with NameCheap is their pricing for transfers, which costs $9.69 but renews subsequently at $12.98. While this may be an error caused by having too many/frequent promos and not changing the right information on pages, it does make things feel a little dodgy. The only good part is that NameCheap domains come with free Whoisguard, which masks the identity of domain owners.
GoDaddy's $0.99 promo really is hard to beat. However, NameCheap had me hooked at a lifetime offer of free Whoisguard, which other registrars usually charge quite a bit for.
3. Management Interface
The DNS Management Interface is one of the most important things you’ll need to use in administering your domain name. If it’s a nightmare to work with, then your life will be hell no matter how great a domain name you have.
I have account on both registrars and to be honest, in terms of functionality I have no real preference. They are both straightforward and uncomplicated, which makes them easy to use.
My only real feeling here is that GoDaddy’s management interface looks a little like it was designed to be used on a mobile screen. Tons of wide open space range across the monitor, leaving me wondering if it was a responsive theme gone wild.
On the other hand, NameCheap’s navigation bar doesn’t give you direct entry into the DNS movement screen. Not a big obstacle, to be sure, but isn’t that what most people log in to do? It is the one thing that everyone needs and doesn’t need to be hidden under other tabs.
4. Support and User Experience
Normally I would harp on quite a fair bit about user support, but in the case of buying a domain name… well, I’m not too sure how hard it can be.
You search, you find, and you buy.
The only thing I can imagine needing a little help with is perhaps DNS management, information which is quite generic and available almost anywhere.
In any case, both GoDaddy and NameCheap offer live chat email support. My own time on these areas has been a little limited simply because I didn’t know what to ask, but just to clarify – I did get a response to ‘hello’!
More important that support is the user experience. In my mind, the process should be as simple and painless as possible. Let the user search, select and pay, as I’ve mentioned above. One other thing that must be clear and easily referenced is pricing.
Again, both companies do well in the area, since you can search for your desired domain name right from their landing pages. What annoys me endlessly is that Namecheap is forever trying to get you to add on and buy other stuff.
At times during the process, I felt as if I were in line at a McDonald’s being asked in I wanted to upsize my Coke, add on a dessert, or face any other numbers of upsell attempts. To be honest, GoDaddy isn’t much better, but is slightly less obnoxious about it.
5. Domain Auctions
I left this for last, since not all domain registrars offer the service, which to me makes both these registrars a level above. Have you ever wanted a domain name, only to find that it’s already owned by someone else?
But wait – did you know that you may still be able to buy it? Yes, these domains may be owned by what I like to call ‘domain name squatters’. They buy lots of domains and put them up for auction. It’s good and bad in different ways I guess. Bad since you’ll have to pay more, but good since it may not belong to someone who’ll die before giving it up to you!
Conclusion: Who wins?
Judging these tow companies based on domain names alone has been difficult. It’s a very tiny portion of an industry with so many services and options. To put things into perspective, my personal tendencies are to simplicity and efficiency (hence they both annoyed me with those upsell attempts).
GoDaddy seemed the most competent to me in this scenario framework. Also, it doesn’t hurt that their breadth of services offers a strong supporting point. Even if I’m here only for a domain name, I can always opt in to one of their other services at any time.
Also helpful was the ability to login and click one link to manage my DNS options. That was easy-peasy.
About Timothy Shim
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.