AB Creative Edge

Australian Domain Name registrar review
Want to register a Domain Name or URL? READ THIS FIRST!!!
After trying out four Domain Name Registrar’s over the past few years, it became abundantly clear that not all Registrar’s are created equally. Nor does the adage, “you get what you pay for” apply.
The following is an honest, independent review of discovery in this "self regulated"industry.

Domain Name Registrars

auda


In September 2011, EDGE researched all the Domain Name Registrar’s
– companies that provide URL, Domain name or website name registration - eg: www.yourdomainname.com.au, that are listed as “accredited registrars” on the auda.org.au website.
“.au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) is the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au domain space.” More information can be found HERE.

A huge range of price differences, hidden fees for the unwary and varying levels of service was discovered. A Registrar was being sought that could provide affordable and reliable domain name registration (getting a web address or "URL"), domain hosting and forwarding (apparently two seperate services required to point the URL to a website) and a website hosting option (renting space on a computer to 'serve' a website to the internet).

One company stood out from the crowd and only a few others came close.
To save you reading this entire review, EDGE's top Registrar choice is VentraIP based on the findings below [and I'm still using them in 2017!]
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After having experienced first hand the services offered by NetRegistry, Aust Domains and Cheaper Domains, EDGE researched ALL .auDA accredited Registrars before trying Ventra IP. A personal account follows.
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The first time I registered a domain name, I chose NetRegistry after only some basic research as they had a professional sounding name, 24/7 phone and email support and their presented price seemed reasonable at $17.48 per year for a .com.au domain. It wasn’t until after I registered the domain that I realised it would cost an extra $15 per year for “URL redirection” to point the name to my website hosted with my Internet Service Provider (ISP). I instantly felt ripped off as this wasn’t mentioned on NetRegistry’s front page for people new to registering domains as I was. On the plus side, they do provide a reasonable email newsletter, though it does contain a lot of self promotion.
________
My second experience
was setting up a customers Domain after he had already registered it with Aust Domains. They charge $69 per .com.au name for two years. They state on their homepage “FREE management tools”, yet to point a domain to a website, you must “add DNS Hosting to your Domain Name”, which costs an EXTRA $34 PER YEAR!! WHAT??? That’s NOT free management - and something my client wasn't aware of! I also found their forwarding interface to be the most confusing of the four Registrars I’ve tried.
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The third time, I was more cautious, carried out a fair bit of research and chose “Cheaper Domains”. A bright and prominent banner states “FREE UNLIMITED DOMAIN NAME FORWARDING when you host your name with CHEAPER DOMAINS”. And under that “.com.au domains for two years just $35 included GST and there are NO hidden management fees.” These extremely misleading statements lead me to believe Domain Name forwarding would be included in the 2 year registration price –  a fair assumption? … NOT SO. They charge “URL forwarding” at an extra cost of $15 PER YEAR, PER DOMAIN!!!
After purchasing and trying to forward my domains, I soon discovered I couldn’t forward my registered domain name to my website. The following is my communications with them:
________
EMAIL 1:
Hi, I recently registered ######.com with you and want to forward the URL to my website. I've logged in, navigated to DNS Management and added an entry: ######.com "URL Redirect" http://mywebsitelocation

Is this correct or does it take some time before it will forward, as after 10 minutes it's still not working.

cheers.


REPLY1:
from Rod Keys – info@cheaperdomains.com.au
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2011 12:00:52 +1100
> From: info@cheaperdomains.com.au
> To: ######@hotmail.com
> Subject: Re: Contact Form: URL Forwarding / redirect.
>
> Does your existing website have a static IP address? If so you need to
> use the DNS management found in your account and create a "A" record
> that points to your static IP. If not you will need to order a hosting
> plan called frame forwarding the cost is $15 a year and this can be
> added to your account via your online management system.
> Rgds,
> Rod

EMAIL2:
"All domain names include Free DNS hosting, Free expiry notifications, Free management console and NO hidden fees. That's the Cheaper difference"
No hidden fees eh? Suddenly it's going to cost me another $15 to point the name to my site. Great.


REPLY2:
>> Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 10:37:48 +1100
>> From: info@cheaperdomains.com.au
>> To: ######@hotmail.com
>> Subject: Re: FW: Contact Form: URL Forwarding / redirect.
>>
>> Hi,
>> If you have a static IP address for your current site address you can
>> use the free DNS we maintain there are no hidden fees. Some registrars
>> charge over $100 a year just for DNS hosting, which we offer for free.
>> Some registrars charge a management fee which we don't. But let's be
>> fair here what you want if you don't have an account which provides a
>> static IP address (which a lot of hosts do) is a hosting product which
>> costs us money so our small hosting cost of $15 a year is one of the
>> lowest frame forwarding host costs you can get in this country.
>> If you choose another registrar I am sure you will pay more.
>> Rod Keys
>> National Manager

EMAIL3:

I understand your fees are low, I've been stung before in the same fashion by another registrar with URL forwarding, which is why I chose you, with your claim of no hidden fees! Perhaps you could explain it better on your site.

Anyway, I have another account with you, (********@hotmail.com) which I set up as I had to use a different Visa card to pay with.
I've just payed the $15 to forward *********.com.au for a client.
Is there a way I can use that account to forward the ##### names or do I need to pay twice? every year?

cheers,
Tone.


REPLY3:

I understand that it looks easy to explain things in more details but we
are dealing with the net here and if we went into long winded
explanations we would loose the message which is when you look over our
complete offering and the quality of the service we will always be
cheaper. You will need to pay for the forwarding for each site perhaps
you could investigate using a static IP from the supplier of the web
space that might be an option that might work out cheaper for you. We
are not wanting to mislead people like some with outragous claims like
$1 Australia domain names then when you get there it's not a .au but
some other thing for one year and when you get the renewal they want you
to pay $55 so it makes up for the low price they offered in the first place.
I hope that makes sense.
Rod
________

I later found buried in the “hosting services” pulldown menu - second from the bottom – “URL forwarding” at a cost of $15 PER YEAR, PER DOMAIN!!! – and I’d just registered three domains with them!

Not one of the auDA accredited registrars offers domains for $1 as Rod suggests and in any case, if I had payed $1, then $55 for renewal TWICE, it would still be cheaper than two renewals at Cheaper Domain! Getting a static IP from my internet provider was also going to cost me more anyway!

Rod also made mention of quality of service: -
After paying an unexpected $15 EXTRA, as I decided I'd only get one domain forwarded, I got this email:
“We have setup your frameforwarding product with the supplied URL that you provided with your order.
There is nothing more you need to do.”

As it happened, the frame forwarding service they’d set up failed, I needed to send a ticket request through their Plesk helpdesk. In their defence, they did take less than 20 minutes to respond. On later occassions, it took over 12 hours.

________
My fourth registrar: I needed to register some more URL's, so I decided to check out EVERY accredited registrar listed on the .auDA website HERE.

- I looked at the cost to "register" a .com.au URL / Domain Name or Website Address,
- the cost to "host" the URL and forward the name to a website hosted elsewhere, like yourISP.net.au/~yourwebsite.
- I also looked at the cost to host a site with the registrar.

What I found truely shocked me. One Registrar is asking $127 for 2 years for what appeared to be just domain registration! Insane!! The best value ...

VentraIP
com.au domain name - $19.95 for 2 years
Web hosting from $4.95 per month.
Instant Registration: In most cases, your domain name will be active within a matter of minutes.
Free DNS Hosting: Completely customisable DNS zone files and one-click Google Apps integration.
Free Email Forwarding: Forward email sent to your new domain name to any another email address.
Free URL Redirects: Have visitors to your domain name redirect to any other domain name.
Free URL Cloaking: Keep your domain name in the address bar while redirecting to another domain.
VIPControl: Manage all of your domain names and other services with real-time updates. 

Out of the four Registrars I have actually used, VentraIP was the easiest to register and set-up the domain names for forwarding AND email cloaking and forwarding was also included! They also offer cPanel and reseller hosting.

UPDATE: I have been using VentraIP for over six months now. Their communication is good, advising via email well in advance of any server maintenance or expected interruptions and the few time's I've contacted help, I've been met with a prompt response. They often send good offers for cheap hosting or registrations.The hosting and forwarding service has proved reliable. My only critisism is the inability to edit a forwarded domain. You need to delete the setup and start again, so make sure to copy and paste the details somewhere first.

UPDATE 2017: 6 years later I'm still with VentraIP - Nuff said.

Below are some other Registrars I researched for comparison, roughly in order from the cheapest. I've not bothered with the more expensive ones.
Most information was copied and pasted from thier websites in August 2011. Things may have changed, so it's reccommended you do your own research.
The only interest I have in any Domain Registrar is the interest in value and service for myself and my clients and helping others avoid being ripped off. The registrars in bold seem like similar value to VentraIP but I have not used them.
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http://www.aussiehq.com.au --- .com.au $20 for 2 years
Web hosting from $9.50 /mth

AussieHQ's DNS Services
When you register your domain with AussieHQ, or after you transfer your domain into our management, you will gain the following benefits.
Free DNS Hosting When you host a domain into our domain system you will only be charged for registration and renewal charges.
Free URL Forward You can easily configure your domains to forward to other internet locations.
Free Email Forwarding You can easily configure your domains to forward email on to other addresses.
Free Domain Transfers It costs nothing to move a domain into our management system.
Free and unlimited changes to your DNS settings You can make as many DNS changes as you like, whenever you like.
Free and unlimited DNS records for each hosted domain You can create as many DNS records for your domains as you like, without any additional charge.
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http://www.apex4web.com/
- .com.au : $26.50 for 2 years

web hosting SALE! A$3.05 (normally $5.33/mth)
Purchase Domain Forwarding with Masking for A$0.00/yr (includes forwarding)
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http://www.namescout.com/pricing.aspx
$13.72 per year, good features, free dns forwarding not confirmed.
___________________________
http://www.planetdomain.com $27.50/year inc forwarding
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http://www.netregistry.com.au
.com.au $12.41, $17.48/yr + Domain Manager $15/yr
___________________________
http://opensrs.com $22/yr, + $20.10 email & web forwarding /yr
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https://www.anchor.com.au/domain-names/registration/ 
- .au $69 / 2 yr Hosting 200mb $198 per year.
Can you register my domain if I host my site elsewhere?
Yes. When we register your domain you are the owner, you have full control over the domain (via a web based management interface) and can delegate the domain to any web hosting company of your choice.Primary and secondary DNS hosting can be provided for $50/domain/year.
For each hosting account you can only have one website. 
___________________________
http://www.austdomains.com.au
.com.au 2 Years $ 69
+ $34 per year for DNS Hosting
___________________________
http://www.cheaperdomains.com.au/hspc/index.php
.com.au domains for two years just $35.00
(no hidden management fees) - BOLLOCKS!!! URL forwarding is $15 per year!

web site hosting located in Australia for as low as $4.92 per month.
All domain names include Free DNS hosting, Free expiry notifications, Free management console and NO hidden fees???? - NO FREE FORWARDING!!
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