When it comes to registering domain names, the temptation is to let your web developer do it for you or simply to do it through your hosting company, as many companies offer a free domain name as part of the package. Neither is recommended as your domain name is a vital asset for your business and should always be under your total control. The danger is that when changing providers or switching developers, you can be held to ransom over transferring your domain name or it can simply be made very difficult to take your domain name with you. As long as it remains within their registration account then you have no real control.
So keep your hosting and domain registration separate and use an ICANN accredited provider. Over the years, I’ve used a few different registration companies, including Fasthosts (UKReg), Heart Internet and Domain Monster. All have similar prices and all have Control Panels that allow you to change basic and advanced settings for your domain and all offer competitive pricing.
I also look for good technical support by which I mean a fast, knowledgeable and relevant response (hopefully you wont need it but when you do it’s important). Relevant means that replies to my queries are not in the form of stock answers or refer me to the FAQ page but are proper communications from a real person.
My current favourite is Domain Monster who fulfil my basic requirements but also have very efficient, friendly and helpful support staff.
It should be easy to transfer domain names into the service (free for .co.uk and a standard registration fee, extending your registration period, for others such as .com and .net). Transferring out of the service should also be easy and you should not be charged a fee.
The registration company will let you know when your domain needs to be renewed but beware of scam emails or letters from unscrupulous companies offering to renew for an exorbitant fee. Unless it’s from your registration company delete the email or bin the letter.
See the special offer from UKReg and price comparison table here.