In order to have a website you need two things: a domain name and a hosting account. There are many places that offer domain registration, including GoDaddy (yuck!), Network Solutions, and Register.com, to name some of the more popular and most widely used domain registrars. However, you can actually save a ton of money by registering your domains at a lesser-known registar, my favorite: namecheap.com.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to register your domain with the same company that will be hosting your website (although most companies that offer domain registration also offer web hosting as well). My advice for anyone starting from scratch is to setup a web hosting account with Bluehost, because they actually include your domain registration each year for as long as you maintain your hosting account with them (which saves you at least $10 or more per year).
However, if you have dozens of domain names already registered (as I do), I recommend that you transfer those domains to Namecheap as soon as they come up for renewal! I currently have a domain name that was originally registered through GoDaddy and is set to expire in about two weeks. GoDaddy was nice enough to send me a discount coupon that will save me 20% off the regular price of $14.99 per year (sounds good, right?), but I’m smarter than that! Instead, I am going to transfer my domain registration to Namecheap instead! Whenever you transfer a domain name to another registrar the price includes the domain registration for an additional year after the transfer is complete.
So what are the steps involved in transferring a domain?
The first thing you have to do is UNLOCK the domain name. Many popular domain registrars automatically lock your domain name to prevent “unauthorized” transfers. This sounds like a good idea, but unfortunately a lot of companies don’t make it very easy for you to take your business elsewhere. Before you initiate a domain transfer, first log in to your existing registrar and find the setting that allows you to unlock the domain:
Once the domain name has been unlocked you can then begin the transfer process. If you already have an account at Namecheap, first login to your account and then click the link to “Transfer a domain.” Enter your domain name in the appropriate box and click the “Begin Transfer” button.
In order to authorize the transfer you need something called an “EPP Code” – which you must obtain from your current registrar. With GoDaddy, you have to click a link requesting the authorization code to be sent to you via email:
Once you have the EPP code from your current registrar, on the Namecheap checkout page, click the link to “Set EPP Code” and enter the appropriate code, and then proceed with the checkout process by entering your credit card or PayPal information.
Once the payment has been made, there are still a few more steps required to complete the transfer process. Once you pay for the domain transfer to Namecheap you will receive an e-mail with a link to initiate the transfer. You must click the link in that email to start the process of transferring your domain name!
Next, you need to login to your old registrar and click the link to “accept” the transfer. (You can actually skip this step and the transfer will occur automatically, but it can take several days to happen, and clicking the link to accept the transfer means it will happen in about 30 minutes.)
Once the transfer is complete you will receive another e-mail from Namecheap asking you to login to your account and approve the incoming transfer. Once you approve the transfer at Namecheap, you’re all done!