Why You Should Keep Your Domain Name Separate
Best practices for handling your domain name and web hosting account and why you should turn down a free domain name from your web host at signup.
Many web hosts offer potential customers a free domain name with the purchase of their web hosting services. While, it might seem irrational to turn down a free domain name (some companies even offer a free domain for life), it’s often a good idea and a good practice to do so. There are a few good reasons why you should turn down a free domain name with your web host. The biggest reason? Registering a domain name through your web host gives them control over your domain.
Your domain is one of the most important assets, no matter what kind of site you're running. Your domain is part of your branding; it's how people will find you online. Ultimately, you want maximum control over this, and a domain name should really be treated separately from the rest of your hosting services. This can create problems if the two are bundled together, as it reduces the portability of your website between hosting services. Some may even keep the domain name bound to the hosting account, meaning that the domain can't be moved from the hosting company. To help with demystifying the various elements, the separate entities are broken down here.
Domain Registars manage the reservation of names, and this is a separate service where you could purchase a domain name, but without any additional aspects or services. Leading registrars like GoDaddy and Namecheap offer reasonable prices and can work in conjunction with your hosting account.
While web hosting is a service offered by companies in order to allow your website to function, domain names make your site accessible with an address. Many web hosts are also domain registrars, which allows them to register domains for you, or offer them as an incentive to register. It makes logical sense to sell these two services together, or offer them to new customers.
Reasons to Avoid Combining the Two Under One Service
Disreputable hosting companies can hold your domain name ransom if you decide you want to switch to a rival hosting company. They can use the advertisement of a free domain name to lure you in and keep you trapped as their customer by making it very inconvenient to switch. Some web hosts may even keep the domain name if you cancel your hosting account. Since your domain name is part of your branding and an essential piece of your site, this leaves you little choice but to stick with the web host you originally wanted to leave.
Also keep in mind that a “free” domain name may only be free for the first year. After that, the web host may charge an unfair price. Always be sure to check what price your domain name renews at. Web hosts can often be more expensive than via a domain registrar.
How to Keep Your Domain Name & Web Hosting Separate
We recommend keeping your domain name separate. Register a domain name with GoDaddy and then purchase a web hosting account from a reputable web host. Here’s a list of top rated web hosting companies to sign up with.
All web hosts provide support for domain names. Its done through what is known as “name servers” that handle directing domains to where the content for the address is supposed to be. When you register a domain name via a domain registrar you'll be given the option of specifying the name servers for your domain. Usually these will begin with ns1. For example, if your web host is ipage.com, the name servers will likely be ns1.ipage.com and ns2.ipage.com. Your web host will usually provide information in the help section as to how to find what your name server addresses are. If this is confusing for you, call your web host’s technical support and they can easily assist you with any questions.
A domain name should be kept separate. Ultimately, it's a good practice and treating your domain name as a separate asset is more secure and gives you greater flexibility with your web host. It can also save you a lot of time and money in the long-run.