The first to having a website is acquiring a domain name. In this article we look into what a domain name is, who is a domain name registrar, what you should expect from a reliable domain registrar and a list of the best domain name registrars in Kenya.
What is a domain name?
Domain name is the address of your website that people type in the browser URL bar to visit your website. In simple terms, if your website was a house, then your domain name will be its address.
A more detailed explanation:
The Internet is a giant network of computers connected to each other through a global network of cables. Each computer on this network can communicate with other computers.To identify them, each computer is assigned an IP address. It is a series of numbers that identify a particular computer on the internet. A typical IP address looks like this:
Now an IP address like this is quite difficult to remember. Imagine if you had to use such numbers to visit your favorite websites. Domain names were invented to solve this problem.
Now if you want to visit a website, then you don’t need to enter a long string of numbers. Instead, you can visit it by typing an easy to remember domain name in your browser’s address bar. For example, hostfiti.com.
How is Domain Name Different from a Website and Web Hosting?
A website is made up of files like HTML pages, website builder software, images, and more.
If the domain name is the web address of your website, then web hosting is the home where your website lives.
This is the actual computer where your website’s files are stored. Such computers are called servers and they are offered as a service by hosting companies.
To create your website, you need both domain name and web hosting.
However, it’s important to remember that they are two separate services, and you can buy them from two different companies.
Now you may be wondering, how would it work if you bought them from two separate companies?
You just need to edit your domain name settings and enter the Name Server information provided by your hosting company. Name Server information defines where to send user requests for your domain name.
We recommend getting both your domain name and hosting from the same company. This allows you to easily manage them under the same account.
What are the Different Types of Domain Names
Domain names are available in many different extensions. The most popular one is .com. There are many other options like .co.ke, .org, .net, .tv, .info, .io, and more.
Let’s take a more detailed look at different types of domain names available.
Top Level Domain – TLD
Top level domain or TLD are generic domain extensions that are listed at the highest level in the domain name system.
There are hundreds of TLDs, but the most popular ones are .com, .org, and .net. Other TLDs are lesser known and we don’t recommend using them. For example, .biz, .club, .info, .agency, and many more.
Country Code Top Level Domain – ccTLD
Country code top-level domain or ccTLD are country specific domain names which end with country code extension like .ke for Kenya, .uk for the United Kingdom, .de for Germany, .in for India.
They are used by websites that want to target audiences in a specific country.
Sponsored Top Level Domain – sTLD
Sponsored top-level domain or sTLD is a category of TLDs that has a sponsor representing a specific community served by the domain extension.
For example, .edu for education-related organizations.
Who is a Domain Registrar?
A domain name registrar is a company that allows you to purchase and register domain names. All domain name registrars are accreditated by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organization responsible for managing domain names.
Domain name registrars can sell domain names, manage its records, renewals, and transfers to other registrars.
As a domain name owner, you are responsible for telling the registrar where to send requests. You are also responsible for renewing your domain registration.
What To Expect From A Good Domain Registrar?
Not all domain registrars have the license to sell all domain name extensions. For example, some domain registrars can only sell domain names with country-specific extensions (like .ke, .io, .in, or .ly).
Each domain registrar may offer different services along with the domain name registration. Some registrar may offer cheap domains as their promotional offer while others may give free add-ons to attract customers.
When choosing the best domain name registrar, we look at the following criteria:
Clear Pricing and Registration Period
The first thing you want to check is the domain name prices. For example, some domain registrars may offer lower prices for the first year registration, but their renewal prices can be different and significantly higher.
You can register a domain name for a minimum period of 1 year. However, some companies may require a higher registration period like 2 years minimum. You can register a domain name for up to 10 years at a time.
If you are buying a new web address, then we recommend registering your domain name for 1 year. You can turn on automatic renewal, so your domain does not expire.
You also need to check for any additional fees for domain transfers, renewal, and other charges.
Clear Domain Transfer Policies
Domain names can be moved from one domain registrar to another. Normally, you wouldn’t need to transfer your domain name right away, but if you’re unhappy with your domain registrar, then this option should be easily available.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot transfer a domain name during the first 60 days of the registration. This initial period is decided by ICANN. After that, you are allowed to move it to any other registrar that you want.
Most domain registrars make it easy to transfer domain names without any extra fee. However, some may try to make it complicated or charge an extra fee.
Make sure that you review the domain transfer policy before you buy a domain name from a registrar.
Detailed Domain Expiration Policies
Domain names are registered for a specific duration. You can renew your domain registration before its expiration date. However, if you forgot to renew your domain name, then it expires and anyone can register it.
For businesses, this means someone can take over their domain name. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, you can set up automatic renewals for your domain name.
Even if you use the automatic renewal feature, it is a good idea to check your domain registrars expiration policy. Some domain registrars offer a grace period even after the expiration. This grace period allows you to renew your expired domain name.
We have heard dozens of horror stories of business owners losing their domain name because their credit card expired, and their registrar did not have a grace period. This is one of the many reasons why it’s extremely important to choose the right domain name registrar.
How do I get a domain name in Kenya?
To get a domain name in Kenya, visit any domain registrar’s or website builder’s website (e.g. hostfiti.com) and perform a domain search. The price of a domain will depend on its extension (the last part of a domain name e.g. com or .co.ke).
Best Domain Name Registrars in Kenya
1. HostFiti Website Builder
HostFiti is a website building platform that enables you to develop your professional website from pre-configured website templates or starting from scratch. The domain names are fully managed by the company.
2. Kenya Web Experts
Kenya Web Experts are Kenya’s largest domain hosting provider and have a reputable history.
They offer low domain registration prices but high renewal prices.
Kenya Web Experts has great customer support services. While they do not provide an online chat service their support personnel are available through other channels like Tickets, Emails, and Phone.
3. Truehost Kenya
Truehost Kenya is a subsidiary of Ryanada Limited founded in 2016 and is among the local hosting companies with most subscribers.
Truehost provide consistent pricing, one of the cheapest domain registration prices in Kenya. Truehost cloud also provide the cheapest TCO (total cost of ownership) of domain names in Kenya.
Sasahost Ltd is a private ICT company incorporated in 2009. The company offers secure, reliable and professional web solutions to direct customers and resellers from various parts of Africa, Europe, USA and several others.
5. HostPoa and DeepAfrica Ltd
HostPoa has been around for 4+ years and it is under deepAfrica Co Ltd (its parent hosting company). Deep Africa through Deep Africa and Hostpoa websites provide Livechat support to the clients on domain name registration and other cloud services.
Safaricom is a leading communications company in Kenya with the widest and strongest coverage. Given that it is the most profitable company in the country, you can be assured that they are a reliable domain registrar. However, their domain pricing doesn’t come cheap.
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