Choosing a domain name is akin to choosing your child’s name. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, you want the name you select to be unique, meaningful, and representative of the personality of your new brand (or baby). As you’re mulling over domains and extensions — or nicknames and middle initials — you’ll need to decide where to register and host your new online identity.
Unlike choosing your kid’s name, picking a domain comes at a price (registration fees and annual renewals). Fortunately, many web hosting providers offer deals on domain services. Let’s talk about some of the most popular ways to get a domain and web hosting set up on a budget.
Best “Free Domain” Hosting Overall
One of our favorite value-adds to discover in a hosting package, especially within the cost-conscious shared hosting market, is a complimentary domain name registration. Many hosts will act as your domain registrar, allowing you to search for available domains directly from the host’s signup page and select the one that matches your brand and website goals.
In reality, the host is likely partnering with a third-party registrar and is merely acting as the go-between, but this is unbeknownst to the customer. Then there are hosts like GoDaddy — the world’s #1 domain name registrar — that is actually the best of both worlds. In either case, getting a complimentary domain name at signup, even if it’s just for the first year of the contract, is a great cost-saving pull factor for prospective customers.
When we evaluate the best domain hosts, we look for this perk, along with features such as free website builders, easy-to-use control panels, and unlimited resources for email, disk space, and data transfer. Based on our findings, the hosts with the best domain hosting deals, including a complimentary registration for the first year of service, are below:
- FREE domain registration and transfer
- Unlimited disk space, domains, and MySQL databases
- $100 towards Google AdWords and $100 in SEM credits
- Unlimited bandwidth and email addresses
- FREE online store and website builder
- Get started on iPage now.
- FREE domain name registration and site-building tools
- Get up to unlimited domains, emails, and bandwidth
- Over $150 in offers with Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
- 1-click WordPress install and WordPress’s endorsement
- 24/7 customer support and online tutorials
- Get started on Bluehost now.
- Easy domain registration and transfer services
- FREE DNS management and custom nameservers
- Up to unlimited email addresses, domains, and databases
- Advanced security features and FREE HackScan
- 24/7/365 help from the A2 Guru Crew
- Get started on A2 Hosting now.
Best Value: Free “Lifetime Domain” Registration & Hosting
Obviously, everyone loves free — the more free, the better. Huh? Yep, the only thing better than a free domain name is a free lifetime registration! Few hosts offer this luxury these days, but those that do see the advantage of offering long-term value to their customers.
The average .COM domain name costs $10 to $15 per year. Multiply that over the course of your site’s lifespan, and you’re saving a sparkly chunk of change. Skip the initial registration fees and annual renewals by signing up with one of the best bang-for-your-buck hosts:
- Up to 100 email accounts hosted at your FREE domain
- 99.9% uptime means your site is almost always online
- Helpful support available any time of day
- FREE server firewall, monitoring, and intrusion detection
- Unlimited domains, storage, and site traffic
- Get started on HostPapa now.
Best “Unlimited Domain” Hosting
For our fellow domain collectors, you may be looking to host more than one site on a single account. Or maybe you just need to host multiple domains for various clients. You’ll need to find a provider that supports multiple domain hosting, and we’d like to call your attention to the following hosts, which allow you to park unlimited domains on their servers.
Not only will these hosts accommodate more than one or two domains, many promise unmetered storage space, databases, email addresses, and data transfer, so you can grow your business without bounds. Eventually, there may come a time when you’ll need to upgrade to a more resource-capable server, such as a VPS or dedicated hosting plan, but there’s a guide for that, too. Without further ado, the best unlimited domain hosting service providers:
Best “Website Builder & Domain” Hosting
If you’re searching for domain hosting, you’re likely in one of two camps: You have a website and you just want to move its domain to a more reliable or cost-effective home, or you are starting from nothing and know the first step to building a website is choosing its domain. If you’re in the latter bucket, this section’s for you.
We frequently judge the top hosts on their offerings for novice website owners — free site-building tools that let you design without coding, intuitive control panels wherein you can easily install WordPress or manage email accounts, attentive and on-call support staff, et cetera. First-time site owners want a host that will do a little hand-holding to ease them into website ownership, and a user-friendly drag-and-drop website builder can take you the rest of the way. The hosts below pack a one-two punch with their website builder and domain hosting packages:
Get Free Web Hosting AND Free Domain Name Hosting Today
So, is your new virtual baby an Amber or a Jonathan? Are you thinking something edgy with a .NINJA extension or sticking with the classic .COM moniker? Whichever name you choose, it’s the first step in what’s sure to be a wild ride, hopefully with 18-plus years of revenue rather than diapers and college loans.
As a final tidbit, it’s worth noting that not all web projects warrant a full-scale hosting service. If you’re just dabbling in domain ownership or just want to try your hand at web design, you may be fine with a free hosting service. Popular site builders like Wix will even throw in a free-for-life domain name, though it will be a subdomain of Wix.com. Get started with one of the top free hosts in less time than it takes to make a baby.