Who are Registrars?
To quote wikipedia -
A domain name registrar is an organization or commercial entity, accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) or by a national country code top-level domain (ccTLD) authority, to manage the reservation of Internet domain names in accordance with the guidelines of the designated domain name registries and offer such services to the public.To cut the long story short - Registrars are the guys who will register your domain name with the authorities for you and hold your records.
Finding a suitable registrar is basically bargain hunting, since the end product that you will receive from any registrar is the same - that is - your domain name. At the time of this writing, domain names annually cost you anywhere between 8 to 10 US Dollars (350 to 500 Indian Rupees). However, ensure that the registrar you select provides you with full control over your domain name settings. I learnt the hard way.
The first domain name that I registered was with Indiatimes. I was not much aware of the domain name settings and primarily wanted to link it to my blog on Blogger. Indiatimes provided very little independence regarding domain name settings. Even adding/changing a cname record (I'll touch on this topic later) required me to post a request to their customer support and it would take around 2-5 days to process. They believe that their customers are not qualified enough to make the changes themselves and hence they do not provide control over such sensitive settings to their customers.
My subsequent hunt for a better registrar landed me with Godaddy. I registered a couple of other domain names with them and till now, I am a happy customer. They provide complete control over the domain name settings, so I can now change cname/a/mx/other records within minutes. They also threw in a few goodies like a 2GB mailbox, email forwarding, shared ad-supported web hosting (more on web hosting later), photo album, website builder, etc., some of which you may or may not use depending on your circumstances. All this for almost the same price as the Indiatimes charged. I am not suggesting that Godaddy is the best registrar. The point is to keep your eyes open. Every now and then, one or the other registrar comes out with some great offer for a cheap domain registration. So while registering check out the offers of 4-5 leading registrars and settle for the cheapest. Some of the leading registrars are:
- Enom - But they have some strange kind of registration process which requires you to be a reseller with them. May be I have not been able to understand their product.
- Network Solutions - Whoa! Just checked their pricing chart and they are charging 35 bucks for a year!
- Godaddy - As mentioned above
- Google Is Your Friend! - Key in 'domain registrar' and it will provide you with a long list of registrars.
Well, and did I got stuck with Indiatimes for my first domain name? No - you can transfer your domain name from one registrar to another (will do a separate post on this) as per your wish. However, you have to forgo whatever you paid to your existing registrar. Luckily for me, I found that Godaddy was offering domain transfer which included one year registration + whatever unexpired time I had on the current registration.
So chart out on your search for a registrar and don't hesitate to transfer if you are not satisfied. After all its your domain.