You might be here because you're looking for a domain. Since we don't advertise, we have to assume you're here because you're shopping around. We hope it's because someone you trust recommended us, but in any case you're also here because you aren't sure. We get it. Especially if this is your first domain name, comparing registrars is daunting and confusing. It's a tangled web, but it doesn't have to be that way.
The Facts vs. Bullshit
If you've heard about Gandi, you've maybe heard "No Bullshit," our beloved trademarked baseline (more on this here).
Domain name registration, like any other market, is a competitive market. And, like in any other market, companies have to make a profit in order to survive in the long term. You want long term if you are going to trust someone with your brand, name, company sales or anything else you want to use your domains for.
In our case, the services we offer along with domain name registration are what we think people want and need and we keep the price of domains with these services as close to at-cost as possible while respecting strong ethics. The modest profit we do make on top of it gets reinvested, either back into our own operations to improve ourselves or into the community.
To be clear, every registrar must pay the same price to both the Registry (the extension owner) and ICANN, the ultimate authority technically in charge of the Domain Names System (DNS). A .com domain, for example, costs a registrar about eight dollars (USD). And this cost doesn't include their employees, nor the electricity, or anything else yet. As a customer, if you are paying close to this or below this price, your provider will have to earn its money somewhere else. There's no magic here. You are giving your money to either a short-sighted, tricky or lying company, and you are trusting them with your domains and personal information.
Here are some examples of these tricks or lies and how to avoid them.
Selling your data
One important thing to consider, in this data-centric world, is to make sure your provider is not selling your data, contact details, habits... to another company. ICANN permits registrars to sign bulk WHOIS data access agreements, allowing them to sell your data to external companies. This has to be mentioned in the Terms of Service, though.
The only way to make sure your data is safe is to read the Terms and Services. If you do, you may smell something fishy. Try searching for the term "bulk WHOIS data", for example, in the Terms of Services before you sign them.
Parked Domain Monetization
Another practice that crops up is monetization of your parking page. When you register a domain name you don't necessarily have a web host up and ready and so by default your domain points to a parking page, which basically tells any visitor that the domain has been registered but just doesn't have a site yet. Some registrars take advantage of this by putting up ads on the parking page.
This is internet pollution. We've all experienced it: you type a request in your browser, click on a link which you thought was the legit website you were looking for, and end up on a directory "site" which is nothing else than aggregated links vaguely related to your search. And that's in the best-case scenario. Here is a nice podcast from our friends at OpenDNS with some other examples.
Gandi doesn't hold expired domains for ransom either or auction them off to the highest bidder.
Just like we don't put ads on parking pages and we don't put ads up by front-running domains, we don't send you mailings with ads for stuff you don't want either.
What you do get
When you register your domain, you need a bit more than to just reserve the domain. You should get more for your money than just that. To get an accurate idea of the value of your purchase, it's important to consider:
- Consistency of prices
- "Batteries included"
- Average length of time domain is owned
- Company values, long term vision and so health
- Quality of the product, service, and customer care
Along with all the freebies you get with a Gandi domain, you also get:
- World class Technical support, by real humans, who work in real Gandi offices in Paris, San Francisco, Luxembourg and Taipei
- Talented and dedicated developers who work hard to make sure we remain an industry standard (they will hate us for saying so because we don't like bragging, but it's true)
- 50% off of a Gandi Simple Hosting instance for a year (with up to one-hundred vhosts this covers you for a lot of domains)
- Free whois privacy (for the TLD registries that allow it)
- Free access to our API & the Gandi CLI
- None of the shady practices we described above. We simply make a small profit for every domain we sell, and reinvest it, as we have for fifteen years.
Whether you choose Gandi or anyone else, we encourage you to read the fine print on the contracts and really think about what makes sense for you as a customer. In the end, you're right to be skeptical – and by all means, please look around and compare others' experiences. We should also mention that sometimes registrars have special promotions for certain extensions so prices can definitely vary.
We hope you'll choose us like hundreds of thousands have for fifteen years, but if not, we'd love your feedback on how to improve ourselves.
The Gandi Team