Changing domains? Check out these 3 cheap registrars

How to get or change your domain for $10 a year or less

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GoDaddy has made a big splash with its brash TV ads and sports sponsorships, and the strategy has paid off: The company has the largest market share in the world. Of course, market share is not a good reason for going with a registrar. Although GoDaddy does provide a solid package deal for well below standard rates, it doesn't necessarily outshine the other two registrars in this review.

While the standard discount price for a .com domain hovers around $15 per year, GoDaddy charges $10.79, while 1&1 Internet and charge $8.99. Price is something of a moving target, however. GoDaddy often runs sub-$10 weekly specials and uses loss-leader pricing on domain spaces such as .info and .me to lure impulse purchases -- and then it tacks on a 20-cent "ICANN fee" that most other registrars include in their list prices.

When dealing with budget domain registrars, the simplest approach is to send your visitors to an existing blog or Web site. GoDaddy provides this basic service, but from its domain management pages you can turn on one of several other options: You could create a starter five-page Web site from templates. You could set up a parking page or "for sale" page.

Or you could turn on basic hosting, which provides 10GB of space for building a site, and allows monthly traffic of up to 300GB. That's more than enough for a well-trafficked, graphics-rich site with largish file downloads -- and it affords you more creative license with your own HTML software than GoDaddy's five-page template-driven "WebSite Tonight" pages.

GoDaddy's Webmail offerings are the smallest in their class. True, you can create up to a hundred e-mail aliases -- forwarding addresses that redirect mail to your domain to another address -- and even set up a catch-all address that sends any mail to your domain to a single mailbox. But you get only one proper mailbox at your domain, and it has a capacity of one paltry gigabyte.

Budget domain registrars

GoDaddy provides a numbers of services from its domain management pages.

If you do most of your mail on the Web, GoDaddy's freebie offerings will wear thin pretty fast. It's not that the technology or features are lacking: There's a strong spam filter that you can configure with blacklist and whitelist addresses. The online application saves e-mail addresses as you reply to incoming mail, and provides a pick list of matches when you enter the first few letters in the To: box of a new mail.

You can download a little notify application for PC and Mac platforms that alerts you when you get new mail in up to five e-mail boxes (if you purchase four extra ones, that is). And in several years of using GoDaddy's Web mail, I've never seen an outage or bounced mail due to technical problems.

But there's simply a shortage of storage space, so unless you do most of your e-mailing from a POP or IMAP offline reader, you have to frequently purge messages with attachments from the Sent or Inbox folders to avoid seeing unsubtle suggestions about upgrading your space for a fee.

A few other things about GoDaddy's offerings don't stand up well to 1&1 Internet and For one thing, GoDaddy charges extra for a handy feature the other two give away for nothing: anonymous registration. Every domain registered has a Whois record in the public domain which includes the name and contact information of the registrant. Most big registrars will offer an anonymous option, where they put in their contact information so you don't get stalked or spammed -- but GoDaddy charges $8.99 a year for the service.

In short, GoDaddy's offerings are reasonable and reasonably priced, but despite being the biggest domain registrar in the world, GoDaddy doesn't offer Wal-Mart-style pricing and service. If you want robust e-mail options and extras at rock-bottom pricing, 1&1 Internet and have a few more tricks up their sleeves.

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