Domain registrar recommendations?

So hey, I’m working on migrating all my hosting and registrations away from Dreamhost. As far as hosting goes I’m just going to host everything on my Linode server for now, since that’s paid up for the next two years or so and it has plenty of capacity available.

But I’m also using Dreamhost as my registrar and DNS provider at the moment, and I’d like to move those as well. (Not only do I not trust them at this point, but their DNS management tools are abysmal and geared only towards people using their hosting.)

What registrars do people recommend, and what DNS hosts do people recommend? In my ideal world they’d be one and the same, although I’m fine with doing a mix-and-match if it makes sense.

My hard requirement is having WHOIS privacy, and a very high priority is having DNS hosting included. Right now my three frontrunners are Hover, Namecheap, and Gandi. Here’s my impressions of them:

  • Hover:
    • Plus: Their DNS hosting is easy to work with, and supports wildcard records
    • Plus: WHOIS privacy is included
    • Minus: Their domain pricing isn’t the cheapest (.biz costs $15.99/year)
  • Namecheap:
    • Plus: They have the cheapest pricing for registrations (.biz costs $12.88/year)
    • Plus: Their DNS hosting looks pretty okay from their docs; it’s definitely better than Dreamhost’s, anyway!
    • Minus: They charge extra for WHOIS privacy ($2.88/year). Or maybe they don’t. Their site keeps flip-flopping on this.
    • Minus: I used them for HTTPS in the past (before LetsEncrypt was available) and they were difficult to work with and felt kinda sketchy/bait-and-switchy
  • Gandi:
    • Plus: Geeks love them
    • Plus: WHOIS privacy is included
    • Minus: Registrations are quite expensive (.biz costs $18.78)

So, it seems like Namecheap is my best bet, but I have misgivings about them based on my prior experiences with them and with how their WHOIS guard thing can’t decide whether it’s free or not…

Has anyone reading this formed an opinion about these three companies? Is there another one I really should look into?

Also, Linode supports DNS hosting as well, although the management tools are kind of crude/low-level and I’d also have to do all the DNS hosting transfer stuff if I were to change hosting providers, so if I’m going to bundle my DNS hosting with something I’d rather bundle it with the registrar. (Although for now I’ve transferred all of my DNS hosting over to Linode which worked well enough. I guess any time I change hosting providers DNS is going to be a pain anyway, so.)

Update: Looks like the reason the back-and-forth was going on with Namecheap’s WhoisGuard pricing was because I happened to be checking their site while they were rolling out an update — they just officially announced that WhoisGuard is now “Free for life.” Well, that certainly makes my decision easier!


Before commenting, please read the comment policy.

Avatars provided via Libravatar