There are a number of ways and locations to purchase domain names, and research and knowledge are keys to making the right decision. Therefore, it is important to know a number of things when purchasing a domain name.
1) Accredited Registrars
All domain names must be sold by accredited Registrars certified to do so by ICANN. Registrars are required to follow the procedures set forth by ICANN, giving consumers a dispute organization in the event one is needed.
Registars are required to pay a fee to ICANN for the purchase of each domain name. One of the areas that separate registars is the price charged to the consumer. Domain name registration varies from $4.99 at the low end to $65.00 depending on which registrar you choose. Services offered with domain name purchases also vary depending on the registrar selected, such as DNS, forwarding, email, hosting and parked pages.
The services offered are just as important to purchasing a domain names as the name itself. If you own a .com domain name and purchase the .net name, then free forwarding would be a great deal. If you want to point the domain name by DNS then not only is free DNS pointing required, but if you have no experience with DNS the support to set up DNS records will also be required. All registrars are not created equal and some sell low cost domains but with limited support.
When selecting a registrar look at your short term and long term needs, whether it is one domain or multiple domains. Although a low cost looks good up front, do your research and make sure all your needs will be filled. When looking for a domain contact the registrar and ask questions like: Do you have 24/7 tech support, does your support cover DNS record set up, advance record set up, what will you be expected to do and what will they do for you.
2) Domain Resellers
Resellers are partners of accredited registrars, reselling their products and services, but are not accredited to sell domain names. When purchasing a domain name from a reseller, be prepared to be patient. Most offer very little to no technical support or rely on the accredited registrar for support.
There are also times the reseller goes out of business without notifying the domain owner leaving them with little knowledge of who to contact if the domain requires DNS record changes or even simple renewals.
Domain resellers are the most unknown group of domain sellers on the internet. When searching for a registrar look at the site you are on, check to see if they list themselves as an ICANN accredited registrar. Domain sellers not displaying this are almost guaranteed to be resellers. Check icann.org and review the list of accredited registrars to see if the company you are looking to purchase your domain from is accredited or not.
3) Domain Deals
Searching the Internet for a registrar will lead a surfer to many results. Beware of some of the results and domain gimmicks. Yahoo offers domains for a low price with their hosting, but is not an accredited registrar or a reseller. Yahoo uses a third party company that is an accredited registrar. Most consumers do read the Terms of Service when making a domain purchase, and doing so will allow you to see that Yahoo states that they assist you in purchasing your low cost domain.
Unless you read the Terms of Service, knowing that your domain will be registered somewhere else could lead to long term issues. These issues include domain renewal notifications or confusions when wanting to transfer the domain to a new registrar.
Check out all domain offers, read the fine print and make sure you know who your are really dealing with.
4) Domain Protection?
When you purchase a domain it is yours to use for the period your selected to register. Once purchased many registrars automatically put on a service to prevent your domain from being transferred to someone or somewhere else without your permission. This service has different names depending on where your domain is registered, but may be called domain lock and domain protect.
Domain protection is a valuable service and should always be left on unless you intend to transfer your domain to a new registrar. Never allow anyone to tell you to turn off your domain protection for any reason but to transfer. Many times a hosting company or web designer will tell a client to turn off the lock so they can set up services, but this is not required to set up any service.
5) Additional Domain Services
When going through your purchase flow you will be offered a number of additional services, none of which are required. Web hosting will be needed if you do not have your own server, but if you just plan on parking the domain or not using it then why get hosting. Email can be used for your domain with many Internet Service Providers like Verizon. Check with your provider amd ask them if you can set up your domain and receive email using your current service. If so there is no need to buy the email service.
Domain registration with a particular registrar does not mean you must use all or any of the services they offer. You can purchase a domain with a registrar and host with a different company.
Private Registration is the only service that must be purchased form your registrar, this product will remove your personal information from the WHOIS database and make ownership of your domain anonymous.