If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve heard me say this before…
When you sign up with a hosting company, **don’t let them register your domain for you.** Do it yourself.
I don’t care how reliable the hosting company is. I don’t care how cheap the offer (many will offer to register the domain for free). It’s not worth it. It’s ridiculously easy to register a domain at [GoDaddy](http://www.godaddy.com), [Dotster](http://www.dotster.com) or [PairNic](http://www.pairnic.com). Heck, be silly and do it at [Network Solutions](http://www.netsol.com). Even if you’re using one of those services for your hosting, **register your own domain in a separate step.** Yes, it’s some extra time. Yes, it’s more email and passwords to deal with. Do it anyway.
Hosting companies are a dime a dozen. Right now, I’m still very happy with [Dreamhost](http://www.dreamhost.com/rewards.cgi?momathome). They recently did away with their domain limits so for a ridiculous $10 a month (if paying month-to-month) you start out with nearly 5GB of disk space and 120GB of bandwidth and you can have as many distinct websites under your roof as can fit in that space. All the bells & whistles including as many MySQL databases as you want, one-click installs, etc. The longer you stay with them, the more you get since they increase your storage and bandwidth over time. I’m paying $20 per month under the “Code Monster” plan (through a special lifetime discount I took advantage of last year) and I’m up to 18 GB of space and 315 GB of bandwidth. More than I’ll ever need in multiple lifetimes. 41 domains (most are are mirrors/redirects), 8 databases, tons of email addresses, all singing along happily.
But if for any reason Dreamhost fell off the face of the earth, I could have every one of those websites back up and online in as little as 2 hours (that’s how long it’s taking for name server changes to propagate to most servers nowadays). It’s as simple as registering with a new host, uploading the files (and setting up databases, email addresses, etc.), logging into my control panel at [GoDaddy](http://www.godaddy.com) and changing the name server address.
What brought this on? [This entry from the Dreamhost blog](http://blog.dreamhost.com/2005/11/04/opensrs-less/) outlining the steps they took behind-the-scenes to change their registrar.
>For three, you needed to assign a username and password for every domain registered to allow the end-user to manage it from OpenSRSs control panel.
We decided for simplicity, and since we didnt want our end-users to use OpenSRSs control panel anyway, that wed just use the same username and password for all domains we registered.
This is one of the good guys (Dreamhost). While I completely understand their reasoning for not wanting end-users to be mussing around in OpenSRS, this locks **you** out of making any changes to your DNS settings without going through the host first. It’s great that they are now ICANN-certified as a registrar so no more middleman, but I still wouldn’t trust them as a registrar for any domain hosted with them unless access to the domain settings were handled separately (a la [Pair the host](http://www.pair.com) separate from [PairNic the registrar](http://www.pairnic.com))
Keeping your domain separate from your hosting is a safety net. As long as you maintain local backups of all your databases and files, there is no way that your host provider can permanently cripple your site (accidentally or otherwise) unless you let them.