Finding a DNS registrar

A few years ago I started the process of migrating my domainnames from GoDaddy to Hover. But Hover does not support the so-called ALIAS records and has made a lot of empty promises regarding when that would happen.

So it’s time to look for a new registrar. But who to pick? The three recommendations I got are:

  1. Amazon Route 53
  2. Namecheap
  3. DNSimple

My requirements:

  1. They should allow me to register new domains as well as use their DNS for existing domains.
  2. Support ALIAS records.
  3. Support email forwarding.
  4. Support simple URL redirection for some parked domains on a subdomain-level. Sometimes this is called a URL record.

It turns out that Route 53 does not do email forwarding, and URL redirection seems clumsy at best (requires an S3 bucket, nothing fancy).

So my focus is on the last two.

They seem pretty comparable, so it comes down to for me is cost. To calculate this, I have the following fictional setup and calculate the total for it:

  1. 10 Domains total
  2. 5 are .com domains, 2 are .io domains.
  3. I have 3 domains that I use an different registrar for, but I want to use their application to manage the zone. Having everything in one place is nice.
  4. 3 of these domains have 1 email address forwarded.
  5. 3 of these domains simply redirect to a different URL.

Namecheap

Line item Price per year
5 .com $ 53.45
2 .io $ 65.76
DNS zone hosting free
Email forwarding free
URL forwarding free

Total : $ 119.21

DNSimple

Line item Price per year
5 .com $ 70.00
2 .io $ 100.00
DNS zone hosting $ 90.00
Email forwarding $ 72.00
URL forwarding free

Total : $ 332

Conclusion

Just based on this, namecheap wins by a large margin.

Did I miss anything? Have others to add? Comment here, or better yet: edit this page to make additions or corrections.

Web mentions

Comments

  • Steffen

    I don't have anything to add to your calculation. But Namecheap is the company that spreads FUD about free certificates and Let's Encrypt: http://blog.kelunik.com/201...

  • Robert Seastrom

    If you get over the notion that ALIAS records are a good thing (they're not - they're not actual DNS records; they're logic that happens in the authoritative DNS server and therefore blur the line between authoritative and recursing nameservers), you have many many more choices.

    • Evert

      Evert

      As an end-user ALIAS records are a good thing, because they allow me to "get the job done". How does "blurring the lines between authoritative and recursing nameservers" affect me negatively?
      I'm not really a DNS expert.

      • Robert Seastrom

        Putting in an A record (you might want to consider a AAAA too - it's always good to support the current version of the internet protocol); to send people where you want them to go "gets the job done" too.

        An authoritative nameserver shouldn't recurse (even though people routinely do it). But you have to in order to implement ALIAS logic. It was incorrect of me to call them "records" earlier; they don't have an actual RR type.

        What problem are you solving by requiring a non-standard layer of indirection from your DNS hoster?

        • Evert

          Evert

          The problem is that some application service providers have changing IP's.

          I can absolutely use an A record but the implication is that I need to keep a watch on when this IP changes so I can manually change it. But what point is there to make this a manual process when the ALIAS 'record' effectively does this for me?

          Me manually keeping an eye on the IP and manually making modifications is effectively a person implementing the ALIAS record, so still not sure what the problem is.

          Could you name a real drawback to this approach?

          • Robert Seastrom

            Sure, here's someone who's done some writing on the subject:

            https://iwantmyname.com/blo...

            Authoritative and recursive in the same DNS instance is "a practice which is generally discouraged": https://kb.isc.org/article/...

            If you find accessed-via-your-domain-name application service providers who change addresses without notice to be inconvenient, I recommend you vote with your wallet. It's kind of like changing your API without notice.

            • Evert

              Evert

              I actually found that article after your initial comment. The reasons stated seemed a bit weak to me though.

              The three reasons stated are:

              1. Caching issues. This is fair, but acceptable for me. Both me and the provider I'm aliasing to are aware of a potential 'double cache' so I also realize that changes might take a bit longer than normal.
              2. GeoIP issues. Does not apply to me.
              3. It's not standard. Mostly an academic argument with no real-world implications.

              I'm no stranger to making academic arguments, but this seems pretty minor to me. All I'm doing is 'automating a user changing an A record on occasion'. Surely keeping a program in charge of this instead of a person ends up in a more robust Internet?

              And being able to rely on DNS names instead of IP's carries a host of benefits by themselves. An A record to a different application provider effectively restricts them from making any infrastructure changes without notifying everyone affected. We live in an age of transient virtual machines that travel between data centers, it's not your father's Internet.

              I also kind of disagree with the notion that they are changing the API without notice. They are basically clearly stating that 'The IP is not part of our API. Do not rely on it'. There's no contract breach there.

              • Robert Seastrom

                If I wanted to offer dynamic updates to customer zones as an ASP I'd be inclined to choose a way that was both standards-based and doesn't require funky recursive/authoritative mixing. The obvious approach is RFC 2136 DNS Update messages, signed with TSIG (RFC 2845). This gets an added advantage of horizontal scalability by moving customers transparently to a new address - something you don't get with an ALIAS scheme unless you're pointing at a DNS entry that is unique to you as a customer.

                My designs tend to favor accomplishing endpoint (IP address) mobility with routing protocols, so the whole "transient virtual machines" argument falls a bit flat with me. If you're curious as to how this sort of thing might work for people who aren't networking folks and just want their VM infrastructure to work transparently for them, check out Metaswitch's Project Calico.

                Anyway, bedtime here in UTC-5 land. My original comment stands - if you manage to get past thinking you need ALIAS "records", you have a lot more choices.

                • Evert

                  Evert

                  But I'm not the ASP in this context. I'm the consumer that needs a super easy to deploy solution. If you can point me towards DNS providers that do things the standard way, that are somewhat easy to use, and I can use with super simple hosting providers I'm 100% willing to give that a shot for the sake of adhering to standards.

                  I obviously don't actually care about ALIAS records, I just want to get the job done ;)