There are more than 350 million domain names on the internet today, coming up with a unique domain name can be a serious challenge. We know the frustration of coming up with a perfect name only to discover that it’s been taken.

But eventually you’ll find a domain name that‘s available and when you do you’ll need to register it right away with a trusted domains registrar before you can use it on the internet.

The best domain registrars are affordable, transparent, easy to use, and secure.

Domain registration isn’t difficult. The challenging part is finding the right registrar. There are thousands of companies to choose from and they’re all competing for your business.

We’ve narrowed down your options by listing 5 of the top domain registrars in South Africa. We’ll also explain what a domain registrar does, and what to look for when you’re choosing one.

What is a domain name and how do you get one?

Put simply, a domain name is your website’s name. It is the address where your website is kept on the internet. This address is used to store the contents of your website such as photos, videos and words that make up your website.

Internet users use your domain name to access your website from anywhere in the world as long as they have internet connectivity.

A domain name can be any combination of numbers and letters, and it can have any one of the many available domain extensions. A domain extension example is a .co.za, .com, .org.za, .store, .net, etc.

Each domain name is unique. No two websites can have the same domain name. When an internet user enters www.avuiremedia.co.za on their web browser, they will always land on this website because our unique domain points to this website, and this website alone.

Before a domain name can be used to store a website and emails, it must be registered and hosted. A hosting service stores all your website files and emails so they can be accessed on the internet.

You can buy a domain name from a domain registrar or domain reseller. First you will have to check if your desired domain is still available, if yes proceed to buy it.

If your domain name isn’t available that means someone else has already bought it. From there you have two options. Option number one is to buy it from whoever owns it, which will be expensive. 

Option number two is to change your domain name extension or change the domain name completely. Get creative and come up with a better unique name that no one else has yet thought of.

What is a domain registrar?

A domain registrar is a business that sells and register domain names and handles the assigning of IP addresses to those domain names. All domain registrars are approved and overseen by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

There are hundreds of available domain name registrars and all of them offer different services. Which one you choose is completely up to you and your internet needs.

How to choose the right domain registrar?

Different domain registrars offer different services and not all of them have the license to sell all domain name extensions.

For example, the CIPC domain registrar zadna in South Africa only offers the .co.za domain extension and is planning to introduce more extensions later on. 

So, before you type in your domain name and complete the payment process, you should take the time to weigh the pros and cons of each domain registrar you consider.

The following six criteria will help you decide the best domain registrar for you and your business.

1. Pricing

Pricing structures can be very tricky, especially if you’re not sure which numbers to look at when choosing a domain registrar. Different domain registrars have different pricing structures for their services. 

For example, one domain registrar might sell you a domain with South Africa’s .co.za extension for R60 and the other might give it to you for free if you decide to host with them.

When choosing the right registrar you should look at more than the domain registration cost. You also need to look at the renewal costs. That’s right, you renew your domain registration every year, so you actually don’t own the domain name, you sort of rent it from the domain registrar.

You want to go with the domain registrar that allows you to register and renew your domain annually without straining your budget.

Most domain registrars in South Africa will give you a free .co.za domain provided that you buy their hosting services.

2. Available domain extensions

Not every domain registrar is licensed to register every domain name extension. Some registrars only sell domain names with country-specific domain extensions like .us for the USA or .za for South Africa.

While other domain registrars are allowed to offer all extensions like .durban, .africa, .online, or even .store. Before you decide on your domain registrar, look at their available domain extensions, how much they cost, and compare.

3. Privacy

A domain name is a property. When you register, it will be tied to your personal contact information, including your physical address. Domain privacy protects your personal information from the public.

When you register a domain name and don’t buy domain privacy, anyone that enters you domain on WHOIS will be able to see your personal details.

Most registrars have the private registration option available to their customers for free while others require that customers pay for the service. With a private domain registration, the registrar’s information is provided in the WHOIS listing for that domain while the registrar holds the registrant’s personal information on their database.

If you care about protecting your personal information from the public, you have to factor in domain privacy options and pricing when deciding on the right domain registrar.

4. Domain transfers

One day you might want to change your domain registrar.

You might have found a registrar with better services. You might have registered a domain from one registrar and went on to host elsewhere and now you want to have your website hosting and domain registration all in one place.

No matter the reason, you’ll want to have a smooth domain transfer process should you ever need to change the registrar.

Before you register your domain name be sure to take a look at the registrar’s domain transfer process. Most registrars have a simple and easy process, but others might have a complicated process and include extra fees for transfers. 

5. Domain Expiration Policies

Domain names are registered for a certain durations, usually the minimum duration is one year. Some registrars offer plans with longer durations. You can find a registrar with a 10 year registration plan if you wanted.

When the duration has expired you have to renew your registration. You can renew your domain registration before its expiration date or setup an automatic renewal plan.

If you fail to renew your domain registration in time, it expires and anyone can buy and own it. Even if you plan to set up the automatic renewal feature, it is a good idea to check a domain registrar’s expiration policy.

Make sure you choose a domain registrar that offers a grace period. A grace period is the maximum time duration you have to renew your domain registration after it has expired.  

6. Add-on Services

Beside domains registration, you might want to know what other services are offered by your registrar. Today, most registrars offer a wide range of additional services to their customers.

These additional services range from website hosting, email marketing solutions, website builders to WordPress hosting.

The quality and pricing of these services vary with every registrar. Some include them with all their domain registrations. Others offer them separately, which means if you want to add them you pay for each service individually.

Top 5 domain registrars in South Africa.

Domains.co.za is a web service company by DiaMatrix and they are one of the most popular domain registrars in South Africa.

Domain registration rates normally start at R79 for a domain name with extension .co.za, and the .com domains cost R219 to register. The service also offers a range of other top-level domains like .africa, .durban, and .online.

In addition to domain registration, domains.co.za offers a wide range of other internet services. They have web hosting, a website builder, email hosting, a security service, and WordPress hosting.

Afrihost.com is a Web Hosting and IT services company that has been around for a very long time. The company offers a wide range of web and IT services including domain registration and hosting.

Afrihost has over 40 domain name extensions you can choose from with the price range of R97 to R1999. The .co.za domain name registration costs R197 while the .com extension will cost you R220.

Their domain registration comes with the standard phone & email support, 24/7 priority support, online troubleshooter, and a full DNS control.

Renewals for all domains cost the same as a registration. For example a domain name with a .org extension is R190, renewal is also R190.

Domain transfers are free to all .co.za domain names and all other domain names under R100.

Though primarily known as a web hosting company, Xneelo also provides domain registry service. A .co.za domain is R79, while a .com domain costs R169. All together they have 18 domain extensions available to choose from.

Xneelo offers shared hosting plans starting from R99 per month. All web hosting packages include 24/7 technical support, unlimited traffic, WordPress and other popular CMSs support.

Domain renewal costs are the same as domain registration costs and they’re automated.

Xneelo is ideal for web developers, E-commerce websites, SaaS Applications and reseller hosting. In addition to providing domain registration and web hosting. They also offer Self-managed servers starting at R995 per month and managed servers starting from R1295 per month.

Another hosting service provider, Hostafrica also sells domain names and offers free .co.za domains when you buy their hosting plans. A .co.za domain alone starts at R79 and a .com costs R249.

Hostafrica web hosting plans start at R69 for 1 website and are billed monthly. Their hosting plans support numerous open-source software and apps including WordPress, Joomla!, Magento, Prestashop or Drupal.

Domain transfers and renewals are the same cost as domain registration cost except for domains with extensions .co.za, .org.za and .web.za. For these 3 domain extensions, transfers are free.

Other services offered by HostAfrica include reseller hosting, domains reseller, website builder, and web security.

Registerdomain.co.za is a South African domain registrar company that has been around since 2005. The company offers some of the most affordable domain deals in the land with prices starting from R75 for .co.za, .net.za, .org.za and .web.za domains.

The company also offers an insane wide range of other top-level domains, more than 100 to choose from.

Domain transfers for .co.za, .net.za, .org.za and .web.za domain names are free. And, a transfer may take up to 5 days to go through. Other services being offered by the company include hosting, SSL certificates, domain and hosting reselling.

Unfortunately we did not find any information regarding domain privacy on the website or any information regarding the grace period.

Last word – Best Domain Registrar

You won’t have a website until you’ve registered your domain name and secured hosting.

It doesn’t really matter which registrar you decide to use. What matters is getting the domain name you want at a fair price with the protection and security you need.

When you’re choosing the registrar, be sure to look at what services they offer besides domain registration. You might not need these services now, but you might need them later and making sure your domain registrar offers all those extra services will make life easier for you down the line.

Be sure to consider all services pricing, the expiration date policies and renewals, domain transfer processes, and privacy when deciding which domain registrar is best for you and your business. Make sure you choose a domain registrar that makes all these process easy, affordable, and safe.

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