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Free? You Usually Get What You Pay For

There's a buzz at the moment about companies offering free domain names.

In one case I've even seen this information offered as a "free bonus" ("worth $70") offered with an Internet toolkit. (I should of course mention, that there's no longer any need to pay $70 for a domain name - you can get one for around $20).


Free Domain Registrars

A variety of companies offer free domain registration. These include: So why pay to register a domain, when you can get one for free?

Well the answer is... you get what you pay for with these services:
  1. Generally you do not end up owning the name - the company does. Check the Internic.net domain records if you don't believe me.

    This means that you can't sell it, can't transfer it to another web host, and in the worst case, the company could end up selling it or giving it away without your consent.

    Note: In some cases, the free domain registrar hosts a frame or script, on their site, so you may be able to redirect where this points to, but you can't get rid of their frame/script.

  2. If you're lucky the company, may offer a paid option where they release it to you. But you could end up paying more than it would have cost to register the name properly in the first place.

    Not all companies offer this "release" option, and there may be conditions attached - so check the Terms Of Service very carefully!

  3. Most of the American companies' business models are predicated on adding banners to your site. This could be an annoying popup, or worse yet it could be a frame round your whole site, which ruins your chances of getting traffic from search engines. (The UK's freenetname is a little different - they make their money by taking a proportion of your telephone bill as you are forced to use their ISP).

  4. It looks cheap: advertisers, business partners, and even customers will probably be aware that you couldn't afford $20 or so to "do it the right way". If they see that $20 is too expensive for your business site - don't expect them to draw favorable conclusions or even take you seriously.

Free Hosting

Another alternative is to pay for your domain name, but use a free web host. There are lots of these on the net.

While free hosting may not be as desirable as good quality paid hosting, it does offer you more flexibility, so it could be the right choice if you are on a tight budget.

Be aware though that a free web host:
  • May have low traffic restrictions (the maximum amount of visitors you can get before you get kicked off).

  • May add unwanted adverts to your site.

  • May offer limited functionality.
However, as you actually own the domain name, at least you can transfer elsewhere (without changing your URL) when you need to.


Free Domains with Paid Hosting

Web Hosting (selling space on a web server to host your site) has grown into a super-competitive business, so these companies need to offer incentives to get customers to sign up.

One incentive, that various paid hosts have offered from time to time, is free domain registration when you purchase hosting.

This is a different kettle of fish from the other free offers, and is generally a reasonable deal for consumers and not a bad one for the company either. Because the company will be registering a lot of domains, they can get them cheap (bulk registration is cheaper than registering a single domain) - and it saves the customer money on paying for a domain name.

However it is worth shopping around, perhaps at WebHostingPicks.com, before you go for this kind of deal: it's no good getting a free domain name if the hosting is not worth the money!


Conclusions

Most of the time - you end up getting what you paid for.

My advice? Never use a free domain service if you put any value at all in your domain name.




Related Links
  • DomainCavern.com
    Can't find a good domain name - choose from tens of thousands of great ones that are available right now, unregistered. Plus lots of free advice and articles, a resource directory, latest domain name news and more.



 
 
 
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