Anyone who manages domains either for themselves or for others will probably have been through the mill when it comes to finding reliable and quality domain hosting. For those who do not yet do this themselves heres a quick registration and hosting 101.
Firstly lets clear up the confusion many people have regarding registration of a domain and the hosting of it. You can buy a domain from any one of thousands of online domain registrants; however, the actual files that make up the domain (the HTML etc.) can be held at a separate “host” (basically a file server connected to high speed internet channels). It is not necessary to have the registrant host your domain and in many cases it is not financially prudent to do so either as some places charge little for domains hoping to get you to sign up for hosting too.
There is another good reason to be careful of registering your domain and hosting at the same place. I recently moved my hosting from a free arrangement I had with a friend (thankyou Rowan) for over a year. I chose webhostingpad.com as I was comparing prices and upload rates etc. and they looked ok. Several weeks after moving 17 domains there – which took days to do) I started getting complaints from the managed domain owners that their sites were not visible. In one case the only version of one of the domains was weeks old no matter how much I tried to update the domain, it remained out of date by a month. I lost that client. After several complaints about service levels I was rebuffed and ignored by webhostingpad.com service department who were rude and did not seem remotely interested in explaining why my sites were down for 2 days in 2 weeks. They then told me that my sites were down as a user (one of my cliients in WordPress) had tried to upload a 61Gigabyte file so they suspended all my domains. Broke the terms of the agreement I believe. So why did their system simply say to that user : “We are sorry but the amount you wish to upload is beyond the limits of this account”. Hmmm Not rocket science is it? The damage to my business caused by a user I had no control over was significant enough to spur me on to write all this.
So No Thanks webhostingpad (why not bite the hand that feeds you?) I have since removed the offending clients’ domain (lost another client there) and continued to have further downtime which they would not explain. Perhaps someone needs to buy more resources to run their hosting properly? The whole thing was a most unpleasant experience and I would recommend that people stay away from businesses that treat their customers so badly. For me, webhostingpad.com was one of the worst decisions I made in my business. I spent days again moving all my domains to Bluehost.com who were really helpful when I spoke to their support on several occasions. Not only that, Bluehost assured me they would not suspend all my domains because of unauthorised activity on a single one (they would suspend that domain only which I would expect) and they could not believe how I had been treated at webhostingpad.com.
Anyway after much loss (over $2000 in client accounts) and 2 days of work moving domains again I am now happy with Bluehost. Because of this I encourage people to not buy their domains and host them in the same place. I keep my registrants and hosts separate so I can move my stuff whenever I need to if the hoster gets unreasonable, changes pricing or terms of service that are unacceptable. It means you can cancel your account under poor circumstances (like me + webhostingpad.com) and have no ties with that business thereafter. It is unlikely you will have issues with the registrant as their function is very basic in all this – merely to hold the registration details for you – there is no other commitment. With the hoster, there is a lot of commitment, monthly fees, upload limits etc.
There are some companies who are very large now such as GoDaddy who do hosting + registration and I would not imagine there would be issues with such large companies. Netfirms are also a large reputable company and are unlikely to have poor/rude support staff or suffer service problems.
So either stick with the big companies or split your registration from your hosting. They pretty much all offer the same services these days so its a case of who you like the look and feel of when you visit their site.
Going about having hosting/registration split is not difficult but you have 2 separate accounts to manage (the registration account is only renewed each year, nothing else needs doing.
Once you have purchased domains you can “point” the internet to your chosen host by going to the dashboard provided by the domain registrant, and entering the nameservers (2 required usually) of your hosting account.
I register domains and Netfirms but host my domains at BlueHost. There are several actions to take to achieve this.
1. Buy a domain at a registrant. (e.g. Netfirms)
2. Purchase a hosting account (e.g. Bluehost)
3. Check the email that you get confirming your hosting account (e.g. from Bluehost) and determine the names of their nameservers. It will be something like NS1.BLUEHOST.COM and NS2.BLUEHOST.COM
3. Open the dashboard at the Registrant (in our example is Netfirms) and in the admin section there will be a tab or a link to allow you to change nameservers.
4. Remove the nameservers that are there and replace them with the ones you discovered in step 3.
5. Open the cPanel of your hosting account (also in that email mentioned in step 3.) and go to the section that says “add domains”
6. Enter the details of your newly purchased domains
7. Upload your site files to the directories you created when creating the domain in cPanel and your site should be visible.
In conclusion, either go with the big companies like GoDaddy/Netfirms (who have more strict restrictions on upload sizes etc.) or with hosting like Bluehost who seem a little more flexible for the price you pay. Either way, make sure you shop around and as the saying aptly goes; “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”