Why You Should Never Use Domain Registrar “Resellers”
One common issue we see amongst our managed hosting clients is the instability of their DNS resolution. Even when requiring clients to point their NS (nameservers) at our agency CloudFlare account, which is still the fastest resolving DNS provider in the world, we still sometimes see a client whose domain is receiving “down” notices among our monitoring partners like Uptime Robot, Pingdom, etc.
The down time notices are usually timeout errors (code 522) meaning that while the server may be completely fine, the domain is not resolving around the world in a stable way during some of the uptime tests (pings).
Usually, web browsers and other applications will point the finger at the origin server — in our case, that means LittleBizzy’s network. This is because the 522 error was originally used to report that a remote server was taking too long to reply back to packet requests.
However the truth is that the 522 error can have many different causes.
The vast majority of the time when we notice 522 errors cropping up for a LittleBizzy client, we check their domain’s WHOIS, and nearly every time we see they’ve registered their domain via a registrar “reseller” such as BlueHost, HostMonster, and so forth. This means that rather than purchasing their domain directly from a “top-level” ICANN accredited domain registrar, they are (usually unbeknownst to them) paying a reseller to manage their domain indirectly.
Even some of the most popular registrars on the web are in fact RESELLERS and not top-level, such as NameCheap, which was still a reseller of eNom up until 2013 (I’m not sure if 100% of their domains are now sold directly or some still managed via eNom?).
You see, the issue with “resellers” is they must connect to whatever top-level registrar they partnered with via an API, which is often not designed very well, so this extra hop(s) combine with coding errors and network/database issues to commonly cause a delay in DNS updates, not to mention a complete failure of DNS resolution in many cases.
Example: rather than “the internet” asking eNom directly for DNS information on your website, it must ask Bluehost, who then must ask eNom, who replies to Bluehost, who then replies to “the internet”… does that sound efficient?
So where should you buy your domains? ALWAYS check to confirm your registrar is top-level accredited by ICANN. Usually this means they will have the ICANN logo at the bottom of their website footer, but in case they are “faking” it, it’s better to check the ICANN website directory instead.
For the past few years our favorite registrar has been NameSilo, based in Arizona, USA. They not only have cool features like 100% WHOIS privacy, but their prices are among the lowest too. Not only that, but their company is focused ONLY on domain management, and nothing else, and they’ve pledged to keep this vision in the future. Just like you typically find the best Chinese food at a restaurant that only focuses on Chinese cuisine, it’s my belief that compartmentalizing your “stack” into partnerships with companies that maintain a narrow focus tends to provide the best performance, not to mention customer service.
So if you are reading this, stop what you are doing and transfer your domains to a top-level registrar focused ONLY on domains. There aren’t that many such companies out there, so if in doubt I highly recommend checking out NameSilo if they support your domain extension.
For legal reasons, a US-based registrar can offer you the best protection too, because of the US court system’s reputation for fairness, not to mention that the US now has courts focused entirely on internet technology as well.
If you need a non-US alternative that is simple and reliable, I’ve also used InternetBS in the past, based in the Bahamas (now UK parent company).