Whether you’re an experienced website developer or someone looking to create their first website, it’s important to take your time and select a reliable domain registrar.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that all domain registrars are the same: they’re not. Features and functionality vary greatly, and many companies that boast cheap domain registration fees can end up costing you more because of hidden charges.
In this article, I’m going to compare two of the most popular domain registrars: GoDaddy and Namecheap. Both of these companies have been selling domains for more than 20 years, and have expanded their operations to offer customers website hosting, business emails, apps and much more.
I’ll look closely at each company’s user-experience and at which domain extensions are available, and will also review important features such as domain privacy, the cost of registering domains and the support options. All of this will give you a good understanding of both companies and help you to make an informed decision as to which service is best for you.
But first, let’s take a look at how these companies got started.
A Quick History of GoDaddy & Namecheap
GoDaddy was launched in 1997 under the name ‘Jomax Technologies‘, rebranding as GoDaddy just two years later. When the domain industry opened up in 1998, the company grew quickly because of its aggressive marketing techniques and low prices, and, by 2005, it was the largest domain registrar in the world.
Namecheap was founded in 2000 by Richard Kirkendall, and launched a year later. Although not as big as GoDaddy, Namecheap is one of the most popular domain registration services, with more than 10 million domains under its management.
While it’s common today for domain registry companies to offer customers additional website-related products and services, GoDaddy and Namecheap were among the first to do this, and it continues to be a big part of their business structure.
User-Interface & Ease of Use
GoDaddy has gone through many redesigns and changes over the past two decades. For a long time, I found GoDaddy to be a frustrating service to use, but I’m a huge fan of its current setup as there are fewer promotions and it’s adopted a beautiful minimalistic user interface.
All products are listed in your main GoDaddy dashboard, while domains can be viewed and administered from a dedicated domain manager. You can control everything from there, including your DNS settings, domain transfers and domain registration details.
Managing multiple domains is simple with GoDaddy too, as you can place them into folders and apply changes in bulk with just a few clicks.
Namecheap’s user-interface is more colorful than GoDaddy’s, but it’s just as simple to navigate. From the main Namecheap navigation menu, you can view your main dashboard, expiring and expired domains, your domain list, products, apps and profile.
You can make modifications to multiple domains by selecting the domains and then selecting the action you want to perform from the top of the domain list.
From a usability point of view, there really isn’t much difference between GoDaddy and Namecheap. There’s a plethora of options available in both services, and the account area is easy to navigate.
Domain Extensions Availability
A large variety of domain name extensions can simplify the task of finding the right domain for your project.
GoDaddy currently offers 499 domain extensions, but another 265 domain extensions are in the pipeline. There are domain extensions for localised websites, commerce, sport, technology and more.
Namecheap offers 480 domain extensions. While GoDaddy helps you to filter domain searches by extension category, Namecheap goes the extra mile by providing additional filters for price, dropping last vowels and applying domain hacks (e.g. hireme.com → hire.me).
You’re not going to have any problem finding a suitable domain name with either GoDaddy or Namecheap, as they both offer a wide variety of domain name extensions.
Email forwarding can be used to create personalised emails for your domain name, and then forward them to the email address of your choice. For example, I could create email@example.com and forward it to my personal gmail account.
GoDaddy charges an additional fee for this service, with the price at $3 a year for five custom email addresses to be forwarded. In contrast, Namecheap provides email forwarding to all customers free of charge and allows up to a hundred custom email addresses to be forwarded.
Both GoDaddy and Namecheap allow you to create forwarding email addresses, but you’ll have to pay for that privilege with GoDaddy.
The domain WHOIS database contains information about who owns each registered domain name. Therefore, when you register a domain name, you’ll also have to provide sensitive information such as your name, address, email address and phone number.
Unfortunately, by default, this information is publicly available online.
GoDaddy allows you to hide this information from others for $9.99 per year, per domain. For an additional $5 per year, per domain, you can add domain blacklist monitoring and malware scans.
Namecheap’s privacy feature is called WhoisGuard Privacy Protection and it’s 100% free to use. For each domain you own, Namecheap will use a unique firstname.lastname@example.org address for your domain in the WHOIS database.
Privacy is something everyone should make a priority, which makes Namecheap the clear winner in this category.
Domain names can be transferred between domain registrars at any time. The only restriction is a domain can’t be transferred if it’s been registered or renewed within the past 60 days.
To transfer a domain into GoDaddy, all you have to do is unlock the domain at your old registrar, and then start the domain transfer process using the authorisation code your old domain registrar provides. To transfer a domain out, simply select to transfer your domain away via the additional settings page in the domain management area.
The domain transfer process is exactly the same at Namecheap. Simply enter your domain name and provide the transfer authorisation code that was provided by your old registrar. To transfer a domain away, go to the domain list page and select ‘Sharing & Transfer‘. You’ll find an option there to unlock each of your domains and generate transfer authorisation codes.
You need to pay for an additional year of registration whenever you transfer a domain name to a new domain registrar. Both GoDaddy and Namecheap offer a reduced registration fee to encourage customers to transfer their domains to them.
Although you shouldn’t select a domain registrar solely on cost, it obviously will be a factor in which company you ultimately choose to use.
As domain registrars have different pricing policies, you need to look at all potential costs to make a direct comparison, as companies frequently charge a different rate for transferring a domain name in, registering a new domain name and renewing a domain name. For example, with GoDaddy it’s $8.99 to transfer a .com domain name in, $12.99 to register a new .com domain and $17.99 to renew the domain. Many other domain extensions are heavily discounted to only $1 or $2 for the first year of registration.
As referenced earlier, GoDaddy charges an additional fee for features such as WHOIS privacy and email forwarding. Because of this, the yearly cost of a .com domain with these features adds up to $30.98 from the second year with GoDaddy.
Namecheap’s pricing is cheaper across the board. With a .com domain name, for example, it costs $8.58 to transfer the domain in, $8.88 for a new registration and $12.98 at renewal.
These registration costs also include additional features such as WHOIS privacy and email forwarding.
GoDaddy’s first year registration promotions may grab the headlines, but, for most domain name extensions, Namecheap is significantly cheaper than GoDaddy.
GoDaddy and Namecheap are no longer just domain registrars, both companies sell many additional products and services.
To help customers to create websites easily, GoDaddy offers a user-friendly website builder for creating traditional websites and online stores, with a large variety of website designs to choose from. It also offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, WordPress hosting and dedicated servers. Hosting prices start from $4.99 a month for an entry-level VPS hosting plan with 20GB of storage.
The company also sells many business-related services, such as professional email accounts, Microsoft Office 365 and a digital marketing suite. It even has an option to add a second phone number to your smartphone.
You can host your website with Namecheap too. It offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, managed WordPress hosting, reseller hosting and dedicated servers. Prices are a little cheaper, with its entry-level shared hosting plan starting from just $1.58 a month for 20GB of storage.
Namecheap also offers professional email accounts for businesses, a content delivery network and premium DNS.
GoDaddy and Namecheap offer a similar suite of tools, products and services to customers. Hosting with Namecheap is marginally cheaper with most web hosting plans, but there isn’t a huge difference in pricing.
Quality of Support
If you’re new to registering domain names and building websites, I highly recommend making quality of support a priority when choosing a domain registrar. Those of you who have managed domains for many years should still take support options into account.
Support is an area where GoDaddy excels, and its help center features written tutorials, video tutorials and a support forum. Should you require direct help related to your account, you can contact GoDaddy 24 hours a day via its chat box or via telephone.
Like GoDaddy, Namecheap’s help center has an extensive documentation area with a knowlegebase, guides and video tutorials, while 24/7 support is provided via a live chat box and a ticket support system.
The level of documentation and support available from GoDaddy and Namecheap is impressive. While telephone support isn’t something you may need often, it does offer peace of mind to know that if you encounter any problems, you can call GoDaddy and speak to someone directly about the issue.
It’s easy to see why GoDaddy and Namecheap are two of the most popular domain registrars. Both companies offer around 500 domain extensions and boast modern user-friendly domain managers that help you to make bulk changes to your portfolio.
I’m a big fan of GoDaddy’s new minimalist user-interface, and I like the fact customers can call GoDaddy at any time of the day to get a problem resolved. However, I believe Namecheap will be the better option for many people, as its domain registration costs are significantly cheaper and include premium features, such as WHOIS Privacy, which GoDaddy charges for.
|Competitive pricing for the first year of registration.||Domain registration costs are cheaper than GoDaddy.|
|Fantastic domain manager.||WHOIS privacy and email forwarding included free of charge.|
|Great variety of hosting plans and business tools.||Affordable website hosting plans.|
^Some key pros and cons of using both services
Used/using either GoDaddy and/or Namecheap? Thoughts on each?