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Creating a website requires a lot of work and thought. Simply building a website or finding a hosting provider is not enough to keep it running on the World Wide Web. You also need a domain name to attract visitors and customers. If you think your website is a physical store, the domain name is the business address. Without an address, potential customers won’t be able to find your real store, and the same goes for domain names and websites.
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Fortunately, buying a domain name doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are several ways to buy one. In fact, we have a step-by-step domain registration guide that you should check out for tips. That said, you can pick up a domain name without spending a dime if you’re willing to deal with a few caveats. We’ll show you how.
How To Register A Domain Name (with Pictures)
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There are a few things to keep in mind when securing a domain name. Typically, domain names are not yours to keep indefinitely. They are usually free for one or two years, after which the registrar will bill you for renewal. You can lose the domain if you use it for what the provider considers to be illegal activity (eg spam). In addition, almost all registrars reserve the right to make changes to the Registration Agreement at any time and without notice to you. Be sure to research any potential registrars thoroughly before committing.
Domain names rarely come with privacy protection. This means that your information as a domain owner is publicly available to anyone snooping through the Whois database. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business and your information is already publicly available, privacy probably won’t be a big concern. But if you’re a blogger who doesn’t want your personal address to be visible all over the internet, privacy protection is an important security step. Depending on the registrar you use, this can be as little as $2 per year or as high as $20 per year.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore three ways to get a free domain name.
How To Get A Free Domain Name For Your Website
Dot TK and Freenom are domain registrars that let you get a domain for free. They let you search for a domain and choose from five free extensions: tk, .ml, .ga, .cf and .gq. These aren’t the suffixes you usually see when surfing the web, so they can make your website – especially business-focused websites – look fancy or even illegal. If you’re building a blog or a personal website, it might not be a big deal.
Please note that you are not the owner of these domains; They are registered and owned by Dot TK or Freenom. You are only given the right to use them, so you cannot sell or transfer the domain names to anyone else.
Website builders, services and tools that allow you to build a website quickly also offer free domain names. However, free domain registration is only available for a limited time. More specifically, the domain name is included as part of a larger package and expires when the package is up for renewal. This is usually a period of one year, after which you have to pay the renewal fee set by the service provider to keep the domain. This can be ideal if you need temporary hosting for a year or less, but beware: there are usually penalties associated with terminating these plans early. You may be charged a prorated fee for the remaining time on your annual domain, or a one-time annual renewal fee.
Wix is a popular and versatile website builder that offers a free domain for a year with its annual plans. However, after this first year, you will need to renew the domain for $14.95 per year if you want to keep it. Wix’s free domain offer does not include private registration; You have to pay an additional $9.90 per year.
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Weebly is another strong option. The website builder allows you to get a free domain with your Pro plan (or other higher level membership). After the one-year grace period, your domain name must be renewed for $19.99 per year, with an additional $10 per year Privacy Protection Bill.
Squarespace is another website building option that has a free one-year domain name. Domains registered through Squarespace also include Whi’s privacy protection as part of the package, which is a great deal if you go this route. Domain renewal with Squarespace costs $20 per month.
The third free method of domain registration is to use web hosting services. Like website builders, web hosts often bundle free domain name registration with their packages to force you to commit to an annual plan. On the hook for the full domain renewal fee if you decide to hold off on membership. With that in mind, this method is great if you need a free domain name for a year or less.
Priced at $35.40 for an annual shared hosting package ($2.95 per month for the first 12 months), Bluehost is one of the cheapest web hosting services that offers a free domain name. This package does not include domain privacy, which is billed separately at $15 per domain per year. Domain renewal pricing depends on the extension type, but .com renewals cost $17.99.
Custom Domain Connection
Hostgator includes free domain hosting with its annual or longer Hatchling plan ($3.95 per month for the annual plan). Domain renewals for .com extensions average $18.99 per year after the free period ends, with privacy protection billed at $14.95 per year.
With reasonable domain renewal prices, Hostinger is another option to consider. Its premium shared hosting plan costs $2.59 per month with an annual commitment, which includes a free domain during that period. Domain renewal with Hostinger costs $11 per year, and Whois protection costs an additional $5 per year.
Domain registration doesn’t have to be expensive. Registration services like Dot TK and Freenom offer free domain names, and they’ll get the job done, provided you don’t mind fancy URL extensions. Web hosts, such as Hostgator and Squarespace, also allow you to pick up a free domain name, but with time-centric limits. Still, if your budget is limited, these free domain options will do the trick for you.
For more web hosting tips, see 6 Best Free Web Hosting Services on a Budget and Linux vs. Windows: How to Choose the Best Server Operating System for Your Website.
Best Domain Registrars To Buy A Domain Name In 2022
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My career has taken me through a wide range of fields and has connected me with people from all walks of life. This experience includes production, professional cooking, podcasting and of course writing. I’ve been writing nerdy takes since 2009 and eventually landed a freelance position. This blossomed into a full-time position as a technical analyst in 2021, where I provide my personal insights on web hosting, streaming music, mobile apps, and video game issues. Editors independently select and review products. If you make a purchase through affiliate links, we may earn a commission, which helps support our testing.
Once you’ve decided to build a website, there’s one important decision you should make before looking at our list of the best web hosting services:
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Will be? You know, this [yoursitename.extension] is the URL where all your (hopefully) many visitors will find you. Your domain name is actually the name of your website, so you want to make sure you get a good one.
Buying a name is a relatively easy process, but finding one that hasn’t already been taken can be a challenge. Additionally, you should make sure you understand the agreement between you and the domain registrar. If this sounds a little complicated, don’t worry: we’re here to help you get started.
Domain names put a friendly face on hard-to-remember numeric Internet addresses. Every computer on the Internet has a unique Internet Protocol (IP) number. A domain name represents this IP number. For example, the IP number for the domain name whitehouse.go is 220.127.116.11. The purpose of a domain name is to give users an easy-to-remember handle so you can type [email protected] instead of the more cumbersome [email protected] when emailing the President of the United States. email protected]
Anyone can buy a domain name. The easiest way to do this is to visit a domain name registrar, such as A2, GoDaddy, Google Domains or Namecheap, key in the domain you want to buy and pay the fee. The first two companies are web hosting services (more on that below).
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