True or false: You should keep your domain name(s) and web hosting with separate companies.

Answer: False, mostly.

There is a long-standing perception that it’s a bad idea to keep domain names and web hosting with the same company. We see it all the time with people giving recommendations to friends looking to start a website and from people who have had bad past experiences.

The basic reason people have the belief that domains and hosting must be kept separate is due to a history of companies that sold hosting primarily but also registered domains as a reseller. Some of these companies would register domains for their customers under their company name rather than under the customer’s name. Then when the customer looked to move their domain elsewhere and use a different hosting company, they found themselves trapped because they did not “own” the domain they had been using. From a customer’s perspective, this certainly feels like the domain has been stolen from them by their hosting company, when the reality is that the customer never owned the domain in the first place and was instead “leasing” it from the hosting company.

At this point, it’s important to point out a distinction in the way domain registrars and hosting companies operate:

Domain registrars operate as direct connections with domain registries and register domains for customers. Many of them (including Domain.com) also sell web hosting.

Examples: Domain.com, Network Solutions, Register.com

Hosting companies are primarily in the web hosting business. Some of them offer domain registration to their customers, but most of them that offer domain registration are resellers of a larger domain registrar. A few have ICANN accreditation and are their own registrars.

Examples: Hostgator, Bluehost, Fatcow

All legitimate domain registrars (including Domain.com) will register your domains in your name. In a domain registry’s eyes, the domain is yours and you can move that domain to another registrar if you are unhappy with your service. This means that there is no danger in buying web hosting from your domain registrar.

In a very similar manner, hosting companies that run a legitimate business (which is most of them) will not hold a domain hostage if you choose to move a domain you registered through them elsewhere.

Now, about the “Mostly” part of the answer.

Unfortunately, there are still some shady businesses out there who will use the tactic of registering domains in their name instead of yours. These are mostly small hosting companies, and not surprisingly most of them also have very negative reputations. Unfortunately, those few companies have created the widespread perception that domains and hosting should not be kept with the same company.

The takeaway is this: Make sure the company you choose for domains and/or web hosting is reputable. ICANN accredited registrars such as Domain.com are often a safer way to go than hosting companies because these registrars must follow ICANN rules for how to handle domain names.

As for Domain.com, we always register domain names for customers in their name. We follow the standard transfer process set out by ICANN for domains which keeps your domains safe from theft but also allows you to change to another registrar if you are unhappy with our service. Our web hosting performs just as highly in reliability and performance as what you’d find at any hosting company, and we have additional options that are somewhat rare in the industry such as monthly terms with no commitment. Give us a try!