GoDaddy, 1&1, Namecheap, and Name.com

Here is my review of the Internet registrars and hosting providers. This post is updated on occasion, so what you read now, may change in the future.

 

GoDaddy

GoDaddy is a pretty good domain registrar.  I have had my domains there for about ten years.  GoDaddy is not cheapest, but the biggest reason I stuck with them was that I bought domains during a promo that was grandfathered for the past ten years.

In the past, you could buy a domain and get free economy web hosting and free email with the domain. This was not just an introductory offer.  As long I kept my domains registered at GoDaddy, I would get free web hosting and free email. The nice thing about this promo is that I can use the free hosting on any domain that I registered with GoDaddy, not just the domain that gave the free hosting.  I have taken about advantage of this promo occurred about 10 years. I haven’t heard GoDaddy offer this promo again recently.

Now, things have changed. My web sites have outgrown from the free web hosting and email. I had to upgrade to better plans because the free plans were not powerful enough to drive my web sites without noticeable lags. I no longer use the free plans.

So why do I stick with GoDaddy? That’s a good question. In the past, I stuck with them because of the cheap web hosting. You can get a deluxe web hosting plan which includes cPanel for $4.49/month for one, two, and three year plans. The deluxe plan includes IMAP, unlimited disk space for email, and web hosting for unlimited domains. It is a no contract plan, but if you cancel you get in-store credit.

Now for domains, there are only two reasons to go with GoDaddy. If you use DNSSEC for your DNS, you almost have no choice but to go with GoDaddy. The reason is that there not that many registrars that support DNSSEC. GoDaddy is one of them and others include Gandi.net and a handful of others and that is it.

The other reason is that you can get a cheap $0.99 domain for one year. With private registrar, the total cost would be about $10.98 for the first year. I could get it cheaper at other registrars but I like the GoDaddy user interface. So spending two dollars more is worth it.

Now GoDaddy did away with the renewal coupons which is a bummer. However, you might be able to get a discount when you renew your domains on GoDaddy. The discount is not much, but I was given a $4 discount for my renewal of my domains. Also, I got private registration, business registration, ownership protection, and a 2-year certified domain for $9.99. The domain renewal cost $20.98. Pretty good.

I recently tried their Premium DNS. This service is comparable with other DNS services such as DnsMadeEasy.com and EasyDns.com. Premium DNS supports AnyCast Global Network, DNSSEC, secondary DNS servers, and vanity nameservers. It has one interesting feature called templates. You can set the zone records on a template, and when the template is ready, you can set a domain’s zone records to the template with one click of a button. Another feature is that it keeps a history of DNS changes so you can go back check out what changes were made. The nameserver uptime is ridiculously unreal. Most good nameservers are up about 97%-98% of the time per month. GoDaddy premium nameservers are up 100% for like 3 to 4 months in a row. The GoDaddy nameservers do go down eventually.

GoDaddy customer support by phone is 24/7.   I like this.  I mostly configure my cPanel account on the weekends so support on the weekends are convenient. The average wait time is about 5 minutes and the maximum I had experienced has been 30 minutes. Before contacting support, you can see the estimated wait time on the support page. You can call support or chat with support.

GoDaddy has a two-step authentication.  With authentication is enabled, when you login, GoDaddy will send a security code to your phone.  You just need to enter the code to GoDaddy and you’re in. At first, I thought this feature was annoying because I would have to take an extra step to login. But now, I have no problem with two-step authentication. It is an extra layer protection for your domains. Note that the two-step authentication is not available for cPanel access, only for your GoDaddy account. Access to cPanel does not require logging in to your GoDaddy account.

Now for the bad stuff…

At one time, my websites went down for about 17 hours.  Not only my websites, but my email and my cPanel access went down.  My email account was down for about 32 hours.  According to support, there was a hardware failure on the shared hosting server where my cPanel account resided.  What was strange was that none of the public websites that monitor the GoDaddy’s uptime reported any downtime.  Not even GoDaddy’s system alerts page reported any problems.  GoDaddy did notify me when my email account was up, but they didn’t tell me that my cPanel account moved to a different server which had a different URL address.  I had to update the email settings on my Outlook and Android to point to the new URL address.  Fortunately, I didn’t lose any email. It seems like GoDaddy has an email spooler when the email servers go down.

Another bad thing is that cPanel support is limited for the advanced user. For basic questions, GoDaddy could probably help you. But if you have an advanced question, their knowledge is limited and may not be able to help you. One representative recommended that I search the web for a cPanel answer.

Just recently, GoDaddy dropped DKIM and SPF support from cPanel hosting. GoDaddy said that these features “never produced any effect on a customers’ accounts, so we disabled them.” There were problems with DKIM and SPF when I tried to use them. cPanel was giving me wrong SPF settings and cPanel was only showing the DKIM record for the default domain, not the add-on domains. I did figure out what the SPF setting were supposed to be. Also, I did find out where to find DKIM public keys for the add-on domains. SPF and DKIM did work on GoDaddy. Now that DKIM no longer works, I decided to search for another hosting provider that does support DKIM.

 

1&1

There are some good points with 1&1 and there are bad points. The good point is that 1&1 is great if everything runs smoothly. The bad point is that when things go wrong, it is difficult to fix the problem.

First the good. For a number years, 1&1 had a good price for the domains which was $10.99 per year and that came with private registration. Now, unfortunately, the price is $14.99 per year. Because of this increase, I looked elsewhere.

1&1 was pretty good with refunds. For instance, I bought a 6 month plan. About a month later, I downgraded the plan. I was refunded the difference.  In another instance, I transferred out my domains 2 to 3 days before the domains expired.  I allowed the auto renewal to occur so that the transfer would complete because the transfer took 5 days.  The transfer completed in 5 days and I was billed for renewal for 2 domains out of 5.  I called 1&1 about why was I billed on 2 but not on the other 3.  Customer service refunded me the renewal on the 2 domains.

The refund does not happen all the time. There was one time of a renewal during a domain transfer. Support said that technically 1&1 still held the domain at the time of renewal based on Who Is, even though the receiving registrar said that transfer was complete on an earlier date.

I have used 1&1 for web hosting. No problems. 1&1 does not use cPanel. Their email service does not offer SPF or DKIM email authentication.

So the bad stuff. My advice for new 1&1 users: Try to do everything using the user interface. Try not to ask customer support to do any domain management tasks.

For me, I wanted to remove some external domains. Unfortunately, their cancel.1and1.com web site was down. This web site is the site to go to cancel domains and packages. It was down for about a day or two. So I called up support to remove the external domains. They removed the external domains but they also canceled one registered domain by accident. I got an email notifying me of a request to terminate the registered domain and that termination would occur the next day. From this point one, the process to get it back was crazy.

You would think getting it back would be no problem. Just cancel the termination of the domain and that’s it. With 1&1, it did not work that way. Once the wheels are in motion, there is no stopping it. For me, 1&1 accidently terminated by registered domain at about 2 pm, I called 1&1 to try to stop the termination at about 3pm, support did not see any request for termination on their computer, later I called 1&1 the next morning to check, the termination was in process to occur, I requested to stop it, support made a request to stop the termination, the termination occurred at about 12 noon, called 1&1 to get back my domain, and 1&1 said that I had to buy a one year package to get it back.

I thought 1&1 was shaking me down, but I later thought there is no other way get the domain back. Buying a package is the only way to get it back. Customer support probably couldn’t override the normal procedures and just get my domain back. They probably couldn’t get a domain without associated the domain with a package. I don’t think 1&1 support can stop a process once it has started. Unfortunately, I had to wait for the process to play out.

On the bright side, I wasn’t billed for the package and I ended up with a free package.

One important note: Customer support accidently deleting domains is not uncommon. I spoke with a person with worked at a different registrar, and he said that customer support does accidently delete domains once in a while. Accidently deleting domains is not just a 1&1 problem.

 

Namecheap

I have been looking at this registrar for some time and I recently transferred my domains to it.  I transferred the domains for $8.97 per year.

For new domains, the rate is about $10.87 per year and private registration is free for the first year and $2.88 for subsequent years. So, for the first year, the rate is $10.87. For the following years, the rate is $13.75. You can get email for free for the first year.

To get the $8.97 first year rate, go this link for the latest promos:  https://www.namecheap.com/promos/coupons.aspx.

I am not a fan of the user interface, or the Dashboard. I don’t find it easy to navigate. I can get around it now but I still find the user interface not easy to follow. I am also not a fan of the user interface for DNS management. It is quite different from other DNS interfaces that I have used on other sites. Actually, I don’t use it at all. All my domains at Namecheap have the nameservers pointed elsewhere besides the Namecheap DNS. (Note I have one domain pointed to a Namecheap web hosting DNS which is different from the usual Namecheap DNS).

The web hosting is pretty good. When I thought of Namecheap, I thought of domains, but not web hosting. I was searching for a new provider when I decided to move away from GoDaddy. I noticed that Namecheap offered web hosting, so I gave it a try.

Here are some points about the web hosting:

  • Namecheap web hosting uses cPanel.
  • You cannot add-on a domain until you change the domain’s nameservers to Namecheap. So for a while, your web site might go down for a few minutes while you’re trying to setup your email and web site. The best thing you can do is to create a folder in your public_html directory. The created folder will be the root of your add-on domain. Upload the files to the directory. When finished uploading, switch the nameservers to Namecheap, create the add-on domain, and have the domain point to the created directory. Then quickly create your email accounts and forwarding addresses. Once you’re done, then can then switch you nameservers back to wherever you want them to be.
  • For a while, there was no user interface for managing SSL certificates. In the past, you had to contact SSL technical support to get a CSR. Once you got your new certificate from your CA, you had to email the certificate to back SSL technical support so that they can install the certificate.
    Now, there is an icon for SSL certificates. It looks like you can get a CSR and install a certificate all by yourself. I haven’t tried it since I already have my certificates installed.
  • Depending on the SSL certificate, you don’t need a dedicated IP to use SSL for your web sites.
  • The default SPF record when you enable it is wrong. I had to add one more IP address to the SPF record. Otherwise, the email will get softfails.
  • DKIM is supported. DKIM is disabled by default, but you can enable it.
    I am not totally sure about this but once enabled, you don’t have to do anything else if your DNS records is managed by Namecheap web hosting. You don’t have to add a DKIM record to your DNS records. The DKIM record is installed automatically in the nameservers.
    Now if you nameserver resides outside of Namecheap, then it is a different story. cPanel will only show the DKIM record for the default domain. For the add-on domains, you have to fish for the public keys for them.
  • The server response time is pretty good without SSL. The average response time has been around 325 milliseconds and the maximum response time has been around 1300 milliseconds.
  • If you want to change the default domain of your cPanel account, you have to chat with Namecheap to have it changed.
  • Unless your nameservers is outside of Namecheap, the DNS management for you add-on domains is through cPanel, not on the Namecheap Dashboard. I like this. I don’t like the Namecheap DNS interface, but I don’t mind the cPanel DNS interface.
  • After you upload files to the server and your website does not work, you have to set the file permissions 644 and folder permission to 755. Here is the link for the info: https://www.namecheap.com/support/knowledgebase/article.aspx/400.
  • I can use Web Disk without enabling Digest Authentication on my Windows 8 machine.
  • You can set a cPanel password longer than 14 characters. Passwords for GoDaddy cPanel was limited to 14 characters (I think). On Namecheap, the password length can be more than 24 characters.
  • The hosting server seems really fast for my flash web sites. I noticed a performance improvement when I ported my web site from GoDaddy to Namecheap.
  • There is one big drawback: The server does go down once in a while. I have my web sites monitored by Site24x7 and my server does go down once in a while for about 2 minutes at a time. My sites go down about once every 2 or 3 days.

Despite down times, I like the speed. I have tried GoDaddy, HostGator, Name.com, and Siteground. I am impressed with the speed on Namecheap.

If you’re lucky, you can get the web hosting for 5 domains for $7/year. This is not a typo. As a matter of fact, that is how much I paid for hosting this page.

Namecheap has a two-step authentication.  When authentication is enabled, when you login, Namecheap will send a security code to your phone.  You just need to enter the code to Namecheap and you’re in.

Namecheap does not have a phone number for customer support (I couldn’t find one).  Instead, you can chat with them. The response time is pretty good. When you start a chat, it’ll say that they are busy and it’ll take a while for them to get around to you. Despite the busy message, they have been pretty quick to chat with you. In a way, I prefer chatting instead of calling. Namecheap has been pretty quick to respond.

Name.com

I went with Name.com to try it out.  It had a good reputation and it was cheap to transfer to domains.  The price was $8.25 for one year and it came with free private registration.

The user interface is pretty good. I like it better than Namecheap.

I tried their web hosting. Here are some points:

  • com uses cPanel.
  • Not as quick as Namecheap, but the web performance is pretty good.
  • Customer support response time is only the downer. The turnaround time for web hosting support is about a day. I couldn’t change the default domain on cPanel, so I emailed customer support for the change. They changed it…a day later.

Despite the customer service problem, Name.com would be my second choice for web hosting.

There are a couple of things to remember:

  • If you a transfer domain that was renewed within 45 days by the old registrar, Name.com will not extend a year to the domain.
  • Customer support by email is 24/7, but not by phone.  Phone support is available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday.

One interesting feature of Name.com is their two-step validation when you log in. You have to install an app called VIP Access by Symantec VIP on your smartphone.  Your phone will be assigned a credential ID that you have to register with Name.com.  When you log in, Name.com will prompt for a security code.  To get the security code, you open the app on your smartphone. Enter the security code given by the app.  The security codes changes every 30 seconds.

 

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