What to look for when choosing a domain provider

This question was raised in the office when 123reg.co.uk had yet another DNS outage recently which resulted in an unknown number of website domains being unable to connect to their corresponding servers. Seeing as choosing and purchasing your domain name is the first step when looking to build your online presence, you should do this properly and choose a trustworthy and reliable Domain Registrar. We have answered some key questions to help you make an informed decision when researching the best company for your business’ needs. 

What is DNS and do I need it?

First of all it’s important to clear up what this jargon actually means, DNS stands for Domain Name System and is essentially data that tells a computer that is trying to access a specific domain what server it should access. The Diagram below summarises how a users initial request will follow a series of events to eventually access the server which in-turn will show a user the website they have requested.
The below diagram gives a basic understanding of how DNS works, while its more complicated than the below diagram suggests It should give you a good understanding of the process.

Alternatively you can read this blog which explains where your website lives!

Why is it important to have a reliable domain provider?

A domain registrar is responsible for ensuring the domain name is pointing to the server that holds your website. There are instances where they experience issues that result in your website seemingly disappearing off the face of the earth and therefore losing potential business and sales. As mentioned in the opening paragraph yesterday morning 123reg experienced issues for approximately 20 minutes where thousands of websites went down and displayed a message along the lines of ‘This site can’t be reached, <<WEBSITE DOMAIN>> server IP address could not be found’. However, shortly after, everything had returned to normal with no explanation from the company as to what had caused the issue. Needless to say that when a website is down it can massively affect your business. If a customer attempts to access your website they can’t make purchases or find your contact details and if a site is down for a prolonged period of time it can massively affect any SEO efforts previously made. 

We fully understand that when working with technology issues occur, however, it’s important to choose a reliable company that offers good customer service, technical service and is open to communication to explain when an issue has occurred, what caused it and how they will resolve to prevent this in the future. 

Some companies simply have a status page, others email out to tell their customers when an issue has/is occurring and others will also do press releases so that everyone can be aware. Their response level may vary depending on the severity of the occurrence.

What to look for when choosing a reliable domain provider?

First of all it always comes down to cost and budget. How much are they going to charge you for your domain and for the future management of it? The registrar should be open and disclose all costs to you; they should highlight the upfront costs and the renewal cost. Another factor to consider, is that these services frequently offer discounts if you buy multiple months/years at any one time. Setting up your business domain isn’t likely to be short-term, so this is a good opportunity to cut down cost further.

It’s also a good Idea to look at their SLA (Service Level Agreement). This tells you the reliability of their service and sometimes tells you how much compensation you will be entitled to if a period of downtime occurs. Below is a table highlighting 5 Domain Registrars and their SLA & Credit policies.

SupplierSLARefund
domain.com99%Not clear
bluehostThey don’t appear to offer a SLAN/A
IONOS99.9% Not clear
GoDaddy99.9% 5% Credit
123reg99.9% – 99.99% Depending on the uptime you are entitled to a percentage of credits based on your monthly bill.
All information was correct at time of writing based on documentation on their website or the livechat function. 

Take a look at the registrar’s social media accounts! If an issue with a website happens many peoples first port of call is to complain online. You will be able to gauge how often issues occur and the transparency of their communication. Alternatively, you can look at https://downdetector.co.uk/ which is a place within the community where people go to report an issue. It gives you a graph for the number of issues (see below) and comments so you can see if the outage is isolated to you or a widespread issue.

It’s also worth looking into the additional services the company provides. Some will only allow you to buy a domain, others offer web hosting while companies offer the full package so you can manage your website, emails and marketing campaigns all in one place. 

You should also look into the domain renewal process, their previous breaches and security measures, their data policy and ultimately how easy the service is to use. Is the user interface easy to use and does it do everything you want to achieve?

Here at boxChilli we have in-house experts who are ready to help you with any issues regarding your domain name or help with changing domain providers. 

Give us a call on 02392 822 377 or email us at hello@boxchilli.com.

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