Domain Name Registrars
Internic is the organisation that controls registrars and you can find their Accredited Registrar Directory at http://www.internic.net/regist.html.
Nominet UK is the central registrar for all domain names ending .uk. There is a similar one for each top level domain name extension (.com, .net etc). They do not actually sell the domain names being the central registrar but there is some good background information on the Nominet site that is worth reading. You need to locate an accredited registrar to actually buy your domain names.
Be careful that the registrar you are considering can offer the extensions that you are interested in. For example, one of the best, GoDaddy, does not offer .uk names at the time of writing.
Similarly, some registrars may offer a national extension but are not able to secure it immediately. In practice they are passing on the order to the registrar of that country and so you may appear to have secured the name only to receive an email some hours or days later telling you that the registrar has been unable to secure it.
Most registrars will also offer hosting and most hosting services will offer you all sorts of free services, website builders, blogs, shopping carts etc.
Use them if you choose to do so as a means of just getting started. But be aware that their primary interest is their own – not yours. You will inevitably find yourself limited in what you can do, being asked for more money because your activity level has increased and generally frustrated.
My advice is to choose the best services or tool for what you are trying to achieve. Choose your registrar as a registrar and nothing else, your host as a host, your shopping cart and autoresponders likewise.
There are those who advocate never using your domain name registrar to host your website. I suspect that is a good policy. If you have a problem with your host – and yes, they do have technical problems, then you cannot access either your site or your nameservers.
If you use a registrar as just your registrar and host your site somewhere else then if your host has a problem or you even fall out with them then you just take a hosting account somewhere else, publish your backup copy of your website to the new host, go to your registrar and point your nameservers to your new site. Then you can tell your previous host where to put his lousy service!
Over time you will probably gravitate to a registrar where it becomes very easy to manage all your domain names when you have them all together. But you have different criteria for choosing your host.
The Big Daddy of registrars. Excellent.
Reference my comments above about not hosting with your registrar, I have been told that Godaddy will confiscate your domain name if they get any spam complaint against you. This is an absolute stopper as far as I am concerned.
Firstly, unless you have a dedicated server, your average hosting account will be shared on a server with anything from 200 to 1,200 other websites – and you all have the same IP address. So if any one of those website owners generates spam then the complaint will be against the server with that IP address. So that means you. So Godaddy might confiscate your domain name and effectively put you out of business for something you have not done.
Secondly, I think it is outrageous that they presume to take control of something that I own without having to go through any legal process. So I just avoid the issue by following the policy I described before. Register with Godaddy but host somewhere else. I hasten to add this is hearsay and I have no personal experience of this and Godaddy is my registrar of choice.
Frankly, I find this the best/most useful. All sorts of tools and information.
Like Nameboy, Domaintools.com has a domain name suggestion tool that can ‘spin’ keywords into domain names. You can also select from all domain names with selective filters – including deleted domains – and it will give you chapter and verse on every domain name in use – including whether the domain name you are thinking of has any blacklist/spam history which might affect it’s future success.
The registration cost for domain names is not the cheapest so I use Domain Tools for research and then go elsewhere to register.
Free to join and for the first level of service – perfectly adequate for most normal purposes. For a subscription you can gain access to pretty well everything you might want to know about a domain name.
I’m told they do .co.uk domains for £1,99. Recommended by friends of mine.