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March 1, 2013

Why Do Hackers Love Namecheap and Hate Name.com?

Namecheap has brilliant marketing. The day that GoDaddy announced their support of SOPA, Namecheap pounced on the opportunity. They penned a passionate blog post and declared December 29, 2011 "Move Your Domain Day," complete with a patriotic theme, a coupon code "SOPAsucks," and donations to the EFF. Move Your Domain Day was such a success that it has its own Wikipedia article. Namecheap led the charge against GoDaddy, and I think it's safe to assume that most people who transferred from GoDaddy because of SOPA transferred to Namecheap. Now they seem to be the preferred registrar of the Hacker News/Reddit crowd.

Now consider Name.com. They too opposed SOPA and encouraged transfers using a "nodaddy" coupon code. But they didn't exert nearly as much effort as Namecheap and as a consequence probably lost out on a lot of potential transfers.

But Name.com has a bigger problem. They get raked over the coals on Hacker News because their free DNS hosting service adds a wildcard record that points their users' otherwise non-existent subdomains to their own ad-laden landing page. I think that's bad and they shouldn't do it. But at the same time, people should understand the distinction between domain registration and DNS hosting.

I'm very happy with Name.com as a domain registrar. It is the best I've used (among Network Solutions, GoDaddy, Directnic, Gandi, and 1&1) and the first that I haven't had any significant complaints about. I haven't used Namecheap. Namecheap looks like a good registrar too, but Name.com appears at least as good, if not better. Their UI is friendly and uncluttered. Their about page makes them seem just as non-evil as Namecheap. Name.com has long supported both IPv6 glue records and DNSSEC (Namecheap recently added IPv6 glue but still has no DNSSEC support). Name.com has two-factor authentication, which is pretty important for such a critical service.

When you buy a domain from Name.com, you're paying for the registration. You don't have to use their DNS service, especially when there are so many good options for DNS hosting: Amazon's Route 53 is very inexpensive, Cloudflare offers DNS as part of their free plan, Hurricane Electric has a free DNS service, Linode has free DNS for their customers, there are paid providers like ZoneEdit, SlickDNS, etc. Or you can host your own DNS.

As a general rule, registrars make crummy DNS providers. Usually the interface is clunky and they don't support all the record types. Only a few months after registering my first domain with Network Solutions, their entire DNS service suffered an hours-long outage during which my domain was unresolvable. Ever since, I've hosted my own DNS without a problem (recently I added Linode as my slave).

I don't have a dog in this race, but I think it would be a shame for someone to exclude a good registrar like Name.com from consideration just because they're a bad DNS provider. It would also be a shame for someone to use any registrar's crummy DNS service when there are so many better options out there.

Posted on 2013-03-01 at 04:57:03 UTC

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Hi, I'm Andrew. I'm the founder of SSLMate, which makes SSL certificates easy through automation, great software, and friendly support.

I blog about security, PKI, Linux, and more. If you liked this post, check out my other posts or subscribe to my Atom feed.

My email address is andrew@agwa.name. I'm AGWA at GitHub and @__agwa on Twitter.

Comments

The comments below are owned by whoever posted them. I am not responsible for them in any way.

Hi Andrew,

As the founder of SlickDNS, thanks for the shout-out!

Great article describing the difference between domain registration and DNS hosting. As you say, the registrars generally have pretty clunky DNS configuration interfaces, which is one of the main reasons I started SlickDNS. Creating a fast, easy-to-use interface is something I've personally spent a lot of time on and I've gotten a lot of good feedback about it from customers.

BTW, SlickDNS does have a free plan for personal use for 2 domains, and the paid plans are free to try for 30 days.

| Posted on 2013-05-24 at 01:04:06 UTC by Reader John Barham | Reply to This

Interesting commentary. I have been a loud name.com fanboy for a while now. Recently though I discovered that one of the domains in my name.com control panel (up for renewal) was never actually registered. It was there for a year and I got a renewal notice. Renewal failed. Support told me that the domain registration never actually went through. Massive name.com bug.

They aren't providing any details after about 7 days of waiting on support for clarification about what the heck happened...the official answer is: "we have given you a credit for the 11.99 you spent with us and suggest you try to register the domain again."

?!?!?!?!? They gave me a credit (refund for the domain they never actually registered for me) and suggest I try again and hope their system works this time.

Now I am writing a whois script to check all my other domains at name.com...hoping I actually DO own them and haven't been paying reg/renewal fees to name.com for nothing.

Really disappointed in their tech team: if they found this bug, they should have also addressed the carnage caused by the bug and not waiting for customer complaints.

Really disappointed that support is taking this type of issue (losing a domain) so casually.

Moral of the story. Don't trust that just because name.com charged you and a domain shows in your control panel that you have successfully registered it. Use an independent whois to verify.

So now I am shopping for alternatives. namecheap seems like the only other registrar that people are taking seriously but I have no experience with them.

The criteria that matters to me (only using them as registrar, nothing else):

- manage multiple domains in one control panel

- control panel support bulk edits (whois contacts, nameservers, etc)

- wide variety of TLD support (com/net/org/co.uk/eu/de/tl/fr/es/pl/etc)

- reasonable pricing

- auto-renew functionality so I don't have to worry about forgetting to renew.

- cheap/free whois privacy (nice to have but not required)

| Posted on 2014-09-24 at 12:37:33 UTC by Reader Matt P | Reply to This

Nice article and I happen to agree 100% with you. Why would a domain registrar be bad for what they do with their DNS services? The DNS services is not related to the domain registration service. Its a hosting service for hosting your records with them and most registrars offer that service for free.

I don't agree with what they do. Actually, its a violation of the DNS protocol, you should not resolve invalid or non existing requests so people bashing them for that have a valid point but...

You don't have to use their DNS service, or email service, or web site service or anything else if you don't want. Its optional.

As a registrar of domains they are great. So is Hover. I think that one is the only one that is actually just focused on domains and its not trying to sell anything else either.

That is hard to find today. A company which only does domains and nothing more.

| Posted on 2015-08-29 at 07:42:03 UTC by Reader Mike | Reply to This

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