The 10 best domain registrars of 2021

If you’ve been searching for the ultimate guide to domain providers, look no further. We’ve researched the best domain registrars, all in one handy place, so you’ll know the best place to choose and buy a domain name.

If you have a great idea and need to buy a domain name, it can seem overwhelming when deciding where to register it. To help you understand more about some of the available options, we’ve explored registrar websites and other publicly available data to complete our registrar comparison, so you don’t have to. While the information provided is accurate at the time of writing, it may be subject to change.

What are domain registrars, and what do they do?

Before we start investigating the best domain name registrars on the market, let’s make sure you understand what they are.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit organization that oversees and manages the domain name system. Known as the Internet phonebook, it manages IP addresses and matches them with domain names. Each top-level domain (TLD) is managed by official domain registries, who then work with registrars who offer domain names to the public.

If we liken it to a supermarket, ICANN is the head office, the stockroom is the registry, and the registrar is a public-facing store.

Domain names can’t be owned outright. Instead, they are rented out for a period of time. ICANN accredited registrars enable you to find, register, and manage a domain name. Protocols are set by ICANN to ensure that domains are only registered by one person at a time. Once you have registered a domain name, they update the registry. The registrar domain service includes the use of an account where you can renew and manage your domain.

How we compare domain name registrars

During our research, we looked at the following:

  • Domain registration
  • Trust and authority
  • Security
  • Support
  • User experience
  • Additional products

For our investigation into the top 10 domain registrars of 2021, we looked at organizations whose primary focus is domain name registration, and that ranked high in Google for domain-related keywords. Our top ten include (in no particular order) Domain.com, IONOS, Name.com, GoDaddy, Porkbun, Hover, 101domain, Network Solutions, Google, and Namecheap.

If you don’t have the time to read our article and would rather see a quick summary, you can head straight to our final results table at the bottom of the page.

Ready? Let’s begin.

Domain registration

Let’s start with domain registration. To determine how great a registrar is, we looked at the number of top-level domains (TLDs) available, .com registration and renewal price, the ability to search for a domain in bulk, loyalty offers, and domain auctions (or marketplace).

Number of TLDs supported

The gold winner for this category is 101domain, with 2,100 top-level domains available for registration. Name.com comes in second with 549, and Namecheap wins bronze with 525 TLDs. The lowest of our registrars is Network Solutions, with 133 TLDs.

Registrar101domainName.comNamecheapGoDaddyPorkbunHoverDomain.comIONOSGoogleNetwork Solutions
Number of TLDs supported2100+549525511489463435430333133

Source: Registrars’ websites

Registration and renewal prices for .COM

We looked at how much it costs to register a .com domain name for a year, and how much the renewal price is. King .com is the most popular domain going, and when it comes to picking a domain provider, a competitive price is important.

As you would usually register a domain name for longer than one year, it’s a good idea to calculate the costs upfront. Although the first year may be heavily discounted, the renewal price may skyrocket, bringing up the total cost of registration. By looking at the full amount, you can easily see which registrar is the most attractive, price-wise. As with all our data, the information provided is accurate at the time of writing, it may be subject to change.

IONOS comes out on top for first-year registrations, offering .com domains for just $1, then $15 each year for renewals. However, this $1 offer is only if you register for two years upfront. If you want to register it for just one year, the price tag is $10, followed by $15 for renewals.

Porkbun comes in at second place offering $8.58 for both registration and renewals, and Namecheap offers $9.48 for the first year, and $13.48 for renewals. Currently, Namecheap is also offering an introductory price of .com for $5.98 for all new customers.

RegistrarPorkbunNamecheapGoogleDomain.comName.comIONOS101domainHoverGoDaddyNetwork Solutions
1st Year$8.58$9.48$12.00$8.99$9.99$10.00$10.99$12.99$11.99$25.00
Renewals*$8.58$13.48$12.00$15.99$14.99$15.00$14.99$14.99$18.99-

*Source: Registrars’ websites. Prices may be subject to change

If you want to register multiple domains simultaneously, you’ll need to be able to bulk domain search, and luckily, the majority of our registrars offer this service. Namecheap, GoDaddy, Name.com, IONOS, Porkbun, and 101domain all offer bulk domain search. Domain.com allows you to register through the Bulk Register tool in their control panel, and Network Solutions offer up to twenty domains at one time.

RegistrarNamecheapGoDaddyName.comNetwork SolutionsDomain.comIONOSPorkbun101domainHoverGoogle
Bulk Domain Search✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

*Source: Registrars’ websites

Discount tiers

Some registrars offer discounts when you bulk buy domains, and it’s a great way to encourage customers to stay loyal when choosing a domain registrar. When it comes to domain management, if everything is in one place, it’s easier to manage, so it benefits the customer too.

Our research found that 101domain and Namecheap offer bulk-buy discounts, and Name.com and Hover offer them for renewals only. GoDaddy offers bulk-buy discounts but you have to pay a monthly fee.

RegistrarNamecheapGoDaddyName.comNetwork Solutions101domainHoverIONOSGoogleDomain.comPorkbun
Discount Tiers✔️✔️✔️✔️ ✔️✔️

*Source: Registrars’ websites

If you want to know more about bulk-buying discounts, check out how our tiers work in our VIP Rewards Club.

Domain auctions or marketplace

Sometimes you might want to offload a domain name, or discover a domain name that’s been taken, but the owner is willing to take offers. If you’re looking for domain selling sites, a domain auction or marketplace is the perfect place to buy and sell registered domain names.

Network Solutions, Porkbun, Name.com, GoDaddy, and Namecheap all offer domain auctions. These are the best websites for selling your domains in 2021.

Registrar Namecheap GoDaddy Name.com Network Solutions Porkbun Domain.com Hover IONOS Google 101domain
Auctions/Marketplace✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

Trust and authority

If you’re looking for a fantastic domain registrar, you want to choose one that’s trusted and has established authority in the industry. For this, we looked at Trustpilot scores, domain authority, date of site registration, and Google trends.

Trustpilot score

When customers want to read, write, or research companies, they will often look at Trustpilot scores. It’s an easy way to understand how other consumers perceive a brand. A high score combined with a large number of reviews will help you to determine which brands are well-liked.

RegistrarPorkbunName.comNamecheap101domainGoDaddyIONOSGoogleHoverDomain.comNetwork Solutions
Score4.84.54.44.3443.62.31.41.2
Reviews1,3673586,85628521,48113,652132491179

*Source: trustpilot.com

The higher the sample size, the more accurate the score will be, so from the table, we can see that Porkbun, Namecheap, IONOS, and GoDaddy are considered popular and reputable domain name registrars.

Domain Authority

Developed by digital marketing software company Moz, Domain Authority predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages. This score is based on factors including linking root domains, and the total number of links. Links from highly trusted websites are seen as more impressive, and therefore carry more weight to them. For example, if a website like Forbes or the BBC links to your site, this link is seen as having more authority than several links from small, unknown websites.

RegistrarNamecheapGoDaddyName.comNetwork SolutionsDomain.comHoverIONOSGoogle101domainPorkbun
Domain Authority Score94938888878281736257

*Source: moz.com/domain-analysis

The table above shows that Namecheap and GoDaddy come out on top, with Name.com, Domain.com, and Network Solutions in joint second.

Date of website domain registration

Next, we looked at when each Registrar’s website domain was registered. Using this information we can determine the reliability of a registrar in this industry. If a website has been around for a long time, it must be doing something right!

RegistrarDomain.comName.comHoverNetwork SolutionsGoDaddy101domainPorkbunIONOSNamecheapGoogle
Date of site registration1994-07-01
1995-01-031996-07-121998-04-271999-03-021999-05-041999-12-242000-02-292000-08-112015-10-01

*Source: www.namecheap.com/domains/whois/

Domain.com is the oldest website and they registered in 1994, followed by Name.com in 1995, and Hover in 1996.

We used Exploding Topics which analyzes Google Trends, e-commerce sites, Reddit and more, to look at searches, conversations, and mentions across the Internet. Exploding Topics help us understand how popular our registrars are.

We looked at 2017 to 2021 and found that in terms of growth over a five-year period, the top three are Porkbun (1066% growth), Google (75%), and Namecheap (12%).

Security

When selecting a domain registrar, security features matter. You want to know that you’re being looked after, that you’re safe from security threats, and your data matters. In this section, we look at privacy protection, account security, and DNSSEC.

Privacy protection

Website registrants are required to provide contact information when they register a domain, which is made public through a protocol that delivers database content, known as WHOIS.

Domain privacy protection is a service that replaces this contact information with anonymous information, keeping your real details hidden from WHOIS. We looked at our registrar’s websites to identify if they offered domain privacy protection and whether it was a free or paid service.

Namecheap, Google, IONOS, Porkbun, and Hover offer free privacy protection. GoDaddy offers three privacy protection options. The basic option is free, but only hides details in GoDaddy’s WHOIS, not elsewhere. If you pay for the second two options, they include features that are already offered for free at some of the other registrars on our list.

Network Solutions offer a service free for the first billing cycle, then charges $1.99 every four weeks after this. Name.com offers privacy protection for $4.99 a year and this includes an SSL certificate. Finally, Domain.com charges $8.99 for privacy protection.

RegistrarNamecheapPorkbunHoverIONOSGoogleGoDaddyName.comNetwork SolutionsDomain.com101domain
Privacy ProtectionFreeFree Free Free Free Free & Paid Paid Paid PaidPaid

*Source: Registrars’ websites

Account security

Security features like two-factor authentication (2FA) help keep your mind at ease. When investigating the types of account security features, we focused on SMS, Mobile App, Device Authentication, and Backup/Recovery Codes.

  • SMS - a text message with a code is sent to your phone. You are then required to type this code into your browser.
  • One-time security code (OTP) - an authentication app generates a new six-digit security code to prevent your account from unauthorized access.
  • Security Key - a U2F security key is placed into your computer’s USB port.
  • Backup/Recovery codes - a code is used as an added layer of security and can be used as an alternative to 2FA if your authentication device is lost or your phone number isn’t accessible.

When looking at the security features available, we found that Google offered the same options available for their main account, including Authenticator app, SMS, backup codes, Google prompts, and a security key.

We found that 50% of our registrars offered an SMS text message option, and the majority of them offered a mobile app.

RegistrarNamecheapGoogleGoDaddyName.comHoverPorkbunNetwork SolutionsIONOS101domainDomain.com
SMS✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
OTP✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Security Key✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Backup/Recovery Codes✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

*Source: Registrars’ websites

DNSSEC

Domain name system security extensions (DNSSEC) are a set of protocols that add a layer of security to the DNS by authenticating the IP address. This helps to prevent users from being redirected to fraudulent websites. Read our Knowledgebase article What is DNSSEC? to find out more.

Our research showed that Namecheap, Porkbun, and Hover offer DNSSEC for default nameservers. GoDaddy offers DNSSEC through Premium DNS. Domain.com offers DNSSEC for domains using Google and third party nameservers. 101domain offers the service if you are using a third party DNS service that supports the creation of DNSSEC keys.

RegistrarNamecheapGoDaddyHoverIONOSGooglePorkbunName.comNetwork SolutionsDomain.com101domain
DNSSEC✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

*Source: Registrars’ websites

Support

Next, we’ll take a look at how much support our registrars offer their customers. Registering and managing a domain can seem complicated, so great support is a huge benefit, especially for people new to the world of domains.

Customer support

The best domain service must also have top-notch support! Here we looked at how easy it was to contact customer support and the type of support available. We found that while all of our registrars offered chat support, it was more challenging to locate this type of support on GoDaddy and Name.com.

GoDaddy, Domain.com, IONOS, Porkbun, Hover, 101domain, and Network Solutions offer telephone support. Name.com, Porkbun, and 101domain all have office hours, whereas Namecheap offers chat and email support, 24/7.

RegistrarHoverPorkbunNetwork SolutionsNamecheapGoDaddyDomain.comName.comIONOSGoogle101domain
Chat✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Ticket/Email✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Phone✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

*Source: Registrars’ websites

Knowledgebase, Blog, Guides

Sometimes customers prefer finding out information themselves, fixing their problems, or taking the time to learn about the products available at their registrar. We looked at the type of resources available and how easy it was to find them.

All of our registrars offer a Knowledgebase or how-to articles for their customers. We found that Network Solutions, Domain.com, and IONOS all had articles that were difficult to navigate, with IONOS showing lots of broken pages. Name.com was a positive experience and had lots of useful detailed information for their customers, and 101domain didn’t appear to update their blog often.

RegistrarNamecheapGoDaddyDomain.comName.comIONOSGoogleHoverPorkbun101domainNetwork Solutions
Knowledgebase/Blog/Guides✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

*Source: Registrars’ websites

User experience

It’s vital to do everything you can to make sure a user has a great experience. If customers are happy with a website and service, they are more likely to use it again and recommend it to others. We looked at user engagement and whether our registrar websites were easy to use on a mobile phone.

User engagement

To see how our registrars fared against each other, we looked at user engagement using data from Similarweb, which uses estimated data rather than a direct measurement. The best domain sites are the ones that captivate an audience and are easy to understand. We used the metrics ‘average visit duration’, ‘pages per visit’, and ‘bounce rate’ to get a clear picture of the most engaging websites.

  • Average visit duration - The average time a user spends on a site within a session. If the average visit duration is high, this suggests that a user is interested in reading and interacting with the content on your site.
  • Pages per visit - The average number of pages a user views on a site within a session. A high number of pages per visit indicates that users find the website easy to navigate and want to digest more content.
  • Bounce rate - The percentage of users that visit a site, and leave after visiting one page. A high bounce rate suggests that people are leaving without finding what they’re looking for.

The table below suggests that both Namecheap and GoDaddy’s websites are highly engaging, whereas Google is not.

RegistrarGoDaddyNamecheapIONOSHoverDomain.comNetwork SolutionsName.comPorkbun101domainGoogle
Average visit duration0:07:050:07:230:05:100:05:180:03:190:03:590:03:380:03:170:03:170:00:53
Pages per visit7.0775.714.674.914.84.624.674.351.35
Bounce rate36.31%25.21%38.32%36.94%35.57%42.48%38.13%39.03%42.54%79.42%

*Source: similarweb.com

Mobile performance

These days, people are often browsing the web on their phones, instead of at the computer, and as a result, search engines consider mobile performance an important ranking factor. Top domain sites should provide a great experience on mobile, as well as on a desktop.

We wanted to see how easy it was to use our registrar websites on a mobile device. We found that Hover, Porkbun, IONOS, Google, GoDaddy, Name.com, and Namecheap work well on mobile. Domain.com was hard to navigate, and both 101domain and Network Solutions had a crowded checkout process, which wasn’t user-friendly on mobile.

We also researched mobile page speed for the homepage of our registrars, looking at the average speed in seconds of a 4G connection on an iPhone 6/7/8, in the location of Virginia. If you’re looking at your mobile you’re more likely to be shopping on the go, and would expect a website to load fast. The smaller the number, the quicker a page loaded, and we found that GoDaddy, 101domain, and Namecheap came out on top.

RegistrarGoDaddy101domainNamecheapIONOSHoverDomain.comNetwork SolutionsGoogleName.comPorkbun
Mobile Page Speed 
2.959s3.44s3.89s5.84s6.46s6.77s8.48s8.49s10.09s10.14s

*Source: webpagetest.org

Lastly, we looked at mobile traffic share. The Similarweb data below shows us that the majority of Namecheap, GoDaddy, Name.com, IONOS, Google, and Network Solutions users, visit their websites from desktop devices. Meanwhile, Porkbun users prefer browsing the website from mobile devices.

*Source: similarweb.com

Additional products

Now that we’ve covered domain registration, trust and authority, security, support, and user experience, it’s time to look at some of the added extras that some of our domain registrars offer. Here we will look at domain/URL forwarding, email forwarding, and more.

Domain/URL forwarding

Domain or URL forwarding (also known as URL redirects) is when a user opens a URL, and a page with a different URL is shown. In other words, a user is forwarded onto a different webpage. This is used for URL shortening, preventing broken links, and to help registrants who manage multiple domains to refer visitors to one website.

We took a look to see if our ten registrars offered domain forwarding for free. Google, Hover, Porkbun, Namecheap, GoDaddy, IONOS, 101domain, and Name.com offer it for free on their default nameservers.

Domain.com instructs customers to set up a 301 redirect via hosting and they call this ‘domain pointers’. Network Solutions offer domain forwarding for $12.99 per domain name.

Email forwarding

An email forwarding service is where you can create custom email addresses for your domain to receive your emails. Any emails that are sent to these email addresses will then be forwarded to an email address of your choosing.

We found that Name.com, GoDaddy, IONOS, Namecheap, and Porkbun offer email forwarding for free, and Google offers up to 100 email aliases for free. Network Solutions and 101domain offer email forwarding as part of a paid email plan, and Hover offers the service for $5 a year.

Other products

It would be remiss of us to not include the other products, such as hosting and SSL certificates, that each registrar offers. We’ve put together a useful table to give you an idea of what to expect from our ten best registrars.

RegistrarNamecheapGoDaddyDomain.comNetwork Solutions101domainName.comIONOSGooglePorkbunHover
Hosting✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️ ✔️
SSL✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️ ✔️
Email✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Website Builder✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Website Security✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Premium DNS✔️✔️
CDN✔️
ID Validation✔️
Blockchain domains✔️✔️
Marketing & Brand Tools✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

*Source: similarweb.com

Interesting facts

Using SimilarWeb we found some information that you might find interesting. A small disclaimer to reiterate — SimilarWeb data is not a direct measurement, but an estimation.

Demographics

In the table below, you can see a breakdown of males and females, and the age range of people using the registrar websites.

*Source: similarweb.com
*Source: similarweb.com

Geographical data - Top 5 countries

Below we can see a breakdown of countries by usage. Here we can see the majority of users can be found in the US, India, and Canada.

*Source: similarweb.com

*Source: similarweb.com

The results

Pop on your best outfit, it’s time for the results! After extensive research, we’ve compared domain registrars to help you decide the best domain name provider for your needs. Take a look at our handy table below to see how our registrars performed. As we have previously mentioned, the information you see is subject to change.

RegistrarNamecheapGoDaddyDomain.comName.comGoogleIONOSPorkbunHover101domainNetwork Solutions
Number of TLDs supported5255114355493334304894632100+133
.COM 1st year registration price$9.48$11.99$8.99$9.99$12.00$10.00$8.58$12.99$10.99$25
.COM renewal price$13.48$18.99$15.99$14.99$12.00$15.00$8.58$14.99$14.99-
Bulk Domain Search✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Discount Tiers✔️✔️✔️
(only for renewals)
✔️
(only for renewals)
✔️
Auction/Domain Marketplace✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
TrustPilot score & Number of reviews4.4 out of 6,856 reviews4 out of 21,481 reviews1.4 out of 91 reviews4.5 out of 358 reviews3.6 out of 13 reviews4 out of 13,652 reviews4.8 out of 1,367 reviews2.3 out of 24 reviews4.3 out of 285 reviews1.2 out of 179 reviews
Domain Authority (MOZ)94938788738157826288
Date of website domain registration2000-08-111999-03-021994-07-011995-01-032015-10-012000-02-291999-12-241996-07-121999-05-041998-04-27
Privacy protectionFreeFree & Paid optionsPaidPaidFreeFreeFreeFreePaidPaid
2FA / Account securitySMS, Mobile App, Device Auth, Recovery CodesSMS, Mobile App, Device AuthNoneMobile App, Recovery CodesSMS, Mobile App, Device Auth, Recovery CodesMobile AppMobile App, Device Auth, Recovery CodesSMS, Mobile App, Recovery CodesMobile AppSMS, Recovery Codes
DNSSEC on the registrar's default nameservers✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Customer supportChat, Ticket/EmailChat, PhoneChat, PhoneChat, Ticket/EmailChat, Ticket/EmailChat, PhoneChat, Ticket/Email, PhoneChat, Ticket/Email, PhoneChat, PhoneChat, Ticket/Email, Phone
Knowledgebase / Blog / Guides✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Mobile page speed, seconds3.8852.9596.77410.0868.4945.84110.1396.4643.4378.477
Domain / URL forwarding on the registrar's default nameserversFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFreePaid
Email forwardingFreeFreePaidFreeFreeFreeFreePaidPaidPaid

Thanks for reading our report on accredited registrars Domain.com, IONOS, Name.com, GoDaddy, Porkbun, Hover, 101domain, Network Solutions, Google, and Namecheap. We’d love to hear what you think about our article, so be sure to tag us and leave your comments on our social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


Colleen Branch

Colleen Branch

Colleen is a content specialist with over 11 years’ experience. She loves to write honest, clear and concise copy, and her work has been featured in many places in print and online, including HuffPost UK and The Times. Colleen’s passions include cooking, playing pool, and board games.
More articles written by Colleen.

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