… starting from the point where the story stopped.
One of my options (see gandi.net – disappointing and untrustworthy! – concl’d) was to look for a new registrar with dedicated email hosting. Given the recent hike in gandi.net prices – not to mention their new “Bullshit” commercial practice – it might be a good idea to look for a better registrar indeed.
Now, before to get started, let me remind you why I chose gandi.net as my registrar in the first place. Beyond being a reputable, reliable, and reasonably priced (at least back then) registrar, gandi.net’s offer was bundled (that is at no additional cost) with security and privacy features such as WHOIS privacy, Transfer lock, Auto-renewal, Grace period, and Two-factor authentication, among others. They also had another free service (offered with every domain name registration) that tipped the scales in their favor: two mailboxes with 3 GB of disk space each, unlimited aliases, anti-spam, and anti-virus protection, and advanced server-side management rules (sieve filters) among other tools.
“Could I find such a good registrar again?”
Before answering this question, let me walk you through my search strategy. This time – as opposed to my first quest for a good registrar – I chose to go backward (because of the situation; see gandi.net – disappointing and untrustworthy!). First, I looked for registrars (no matter how good or bad they could be) that provided email hosting. Then, among those, I selected only the ones that would offer this extra service free of charge. Third, I double-checked that this free email account was coming with at least two features: the possibility to use my domain name and whether aliases were included in the plan. Last, the reminding registrar went through a thorough review to ascertain that they were as good as gandi.net
Level 1: registrars with email hosting
Given that many registrars offer dedicated e-mail hosting and some excel at that, I decided to keep my e-mail account and domain name under the same roof.CogitActive
In 2023, I am not sure that the “many” still applies. After going through a huge amount of registrars, I ended up with only the one listed below. It is worth mentioning, though, that I looked specifically for registrars, not (web) hosting providers! Why? Because domain registration is not their core business; registering domains and hosting websites are two distinct specialty areas and it is hard to be great at both. For this reason, among other things (see Self-hosting: a hard egg to crack), I excluded hosting providers from my search (with a few blurry exceptions marked with an asterisk).
Netim is one of the few Registrars whose main activities are domain name management and registration, since most of our competitors are first and foremost hosting providers. Providing hosting and being a Registrar are very different trades.Netim
NameCheap – Dynadot – Domain.com – Name.com – Network Solutions* – Porkbun – NameSilo – Hover – Register.com – Combell* – Netim – IONOS Domains* – Infomaniak Domains*
Notice the absence of gandi.net! “Duh,” you may say! Of course, I was looking for an alternative to this registrar and would not have added it to my list, but my point is something else. Gandi.net is (almost) never mentioned anywhere (with a few exceptions). On that matter, you might want to consider reading my gandi.net article; the two sections So many registrars and So few thorough appraisals, in particular.
Level 2: registrars offering a free email account (with your domain registration)
Dynadot stands out for its competitively priced domains that include extras such as free domain name privacy, one free business email address and access to its drag-and-drop website builder for free. While web hosting plans often include these features, it is very rare for a domain name to include these. It also offers additional domain security features, such as two-factor authentication, account lock and a physical security key to add yet another layer of protection.Kelly Main
My list was already small but it shrunken dramatically at this point of my quest. Of course, some have special offers (e.g., three months of free email hosting, like in the case of Porkbun), but the companies that actually give you an email account for free when you register a domain name with them are down to:
Dynadot – Combell – Netim – IONOS Domains – Informaniak Domains
Again, it is worth mentioning that some registrars provide a free email account, but only with their web-hosting offer, not with the domain name registration. This is the case of NameSilo, for instance. Most companies have indeed moved toward all-in-one solutions; they provide you with all the services you need to build your website. Convenient, right? But, read the article below:
Level 3: a professional email
Every Dynadot domain purchase comes with a free email address.Dynadot
Yes, but you need to upgrade to their Pro plan to
customize and expand your email addresses to support your personal brand or business.
How do I create a custom email address that matches my domain name?
There are a couple of ways you can create your own custom email address that matches your domain name:
1. You can set up email forwarding. Email forwarding comes free with all domains registered at Dynadot. It allows you to create “firstname.lastname@example.org” and forward it to another email address such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. The drawback of using email forwarding is that you cannot respond with your “email@example.com” email address.
2. You can purchase Pro Email hosting & create your own email.
In fact, you cannot do much with their Free plan. Not only do you have only 1 email account – as opposed to 2 with the previous gandi.net offer – but you cannot even set up your email with any email client.
“Game over, you lose.”
Free with each domain name.Combell
To discover this Basic Essential plan from Combell – previously known as Register.eu – I had to dig for a while! When you reach their page for their “Basic mailbox” offers, you will not see it; you have to scroll to the left! When you click on the Full specifications link, you will see their other three Basic plans, but “Basic Essential” is not listed! Weird!
Granted, it’s only 1 mailbox of 1 GB (as opposed to two of 3 GB with gandi.net), but it comes with your domain name! Assuming it has the same specs as the other plans (the only difference between them seems to be the mailbox size), it should come with unlimited aliases as well.
Our Lite hosting plan is included for any domain name managed by Netim.Netim
Their Lite Web Hosting plan includes indeed a 1 GB email address –
Free with every domain name purchase. This free plan allows you to create a custom email address, that is an email address with your domain name. However, I could not see anywhere if it supports email aliases.
“Does anyone know if their Lite email plan includes email aliases?”
“Not sure, but we believe this feature comes only with the paid plans.”
“This is true for what they call ‘Domain alias’, but it refers to ‘Parked domains’ instead.”
More than just a domain name. Register your domain with IONOS and benefit from our comprehensive features.IONOS
Among these features, they offer indeed an email –
A professional email address (for example: firstname.lastname@example.org) connected to your domain with 2 GB of mailbox space to start. Interestingly, it works both ways; their Mail Basic 1 plan (which is not free) comes with a free domain name.
Can I add a free email account to my domain?
It depends on where you have registered your domain — if you’re still researching, it’s worth knowing that not every domain registrar will offer this service – sometimes not at all, and sometimes for an extra fee. IONOS offers this service for free, and so if you register a domain, or even a few, with IONOS, you’ll have access to a free email account under the same name.
And good to know:
Move your emails to IONOS
Don’t want to lose any email from your existing accounts? No problem — our easy email migration tool works with any provider. In just a few steps, all folders and emails are securely copied across, so you can keep working without skipping a beat.
If you need any support during the process, your personal consultant will be glad to help. You can learn more about this service here.
“That sounds good, but what about aliases?”
For each domain name registered with or transferred to Infomaniak, you can benefit from 10 MB of web space as well as a free email address which gives you access to Mail (Infomaniak webmail).Infomaniak
Their Starter email offer includes one email address with
Unlimited email storage and allows you to
create an email address with your domain name and benefit from a personalized email ready for use. Equally important, it seems that it includes aliases!
Create an email alias
It is entirely possible to create alternative versions of your email addresses by modifying what comes before the @. This guide explains how to create variants of your usual email address without having to add a new address to your subscription.
For example, email@example.com a long address and can be shortened to be used as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org (in this case, you need to create a “jps” alias for the “john-peter.smith” address).
The number of aliases per email address is limited to 50.
“Do we have a winner?”
Forwarding vs. Aliases
Beware, these are not the same! Forwarders automatically redirect all incoming messages from one of your mailboxes to any other email address, including email addresses not at your domain. For example, you could have emails sent to email@example.com forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. On the other hand, aliases serve as alternative names for a single mailbox; an alias must end with the same domain name. For example, if you had a main email of email@example.com and you then created the aliases firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org, emails for all of these addresses would be received the same as if they had been sent directly to email@example.com.
While a forward send email from an email address at one domain name to an email address at a different domain name, aliases do essentially the same thing for email addresses at the same domain name. You will receive email for every alias you create, as well as the original email address, in a single mailbox.Gandi.net
Importantly, email forwarding, as opposed to aliases, doesn’t let you send emails from your @yourdomain address. That is probably why, most email plans offer forwarders (yet, not always free of charge), while aliases are often not included! Even gandi.net specified that
The email forwarding service remains free of charge [… and] operational without any action on your part, even after November 30, 2023. Why? Because
If you only use email forwarding, you don’t need a mailbox and therefore don’t have a mailbox to convert.
Level 4: a good registrar
Combell? – Netim? – IONOS Domains? – Infomaniak Domains
But at this point, I still had four potential registrars compeeting. Admittedly, I did not know whether their email offer included aliases or not (for three of them); yet, they all come with what they call “a professional email.” But what about their professionalism when it comes to being a registrar; none of them were on my shortlist five years ago!
For some reason, I had a hard time finding reliable info about Combell as a registrar. Probably because Register.eu, which has been offering domain name registration since 1999, started to operate as Combell only very recently (on June 1, 2021, to be specific).
I could have stopped looking further after seeing their prices for a .com domain: 9.99 €/year the first year (without tax I assume) but 42.99 €/year afterward. No way! But I kept searching until I eventually found some reviews (from dissatisfied customers) specifically for their registrar activity, that was it!
Sorry I can’t give zero stars. They took over from another company, then, sent emails with invoice that they say ended up in spam, they cut of my register eu Domain on Easter Monday (a public holiday in Belgium) and sent me an email to inform me of an outstanding invoice. I paid within a few minutes of receiving the only email I ever got. Now they want me to pay an additional 44.40€ for late payment (zero working days) on a 44.77€ invoice I paid yesterday for a one year eu domain renewal. I will not pay the fine and have asked for a refund of the instant transfer of 44.77€ for the renewal I did yesterday. I will register a new domain somewhere else. This is a scam, and happens over the Easter long weekend… Strange… waiting for my refund in order to complete my dossier in order to file an official complaint at EU level.John John
This is a huge scam. When you purchase a domain name, you cannot use other nameservers. Also they dont reply on your support tickets on purpose, so the refund date expires. Worst company ever.Jan van der Velden
Maybe the below comment summarizes best what might have happened – something reminiscent of the recent gandi.net mishap:
Combell’s business plan seems to be to purchase as many hosting companies as they can, cut all costs (support being the first) and probably sell themselves in a couple of months being the biggest hosting company in the Benelux. The acquiring company will find out about the mess they have left when the people responsible for it are long gone.floris v.d.walle
Netim is first and foremost a Registrar. Unlike most of our competitors who are web hosting providers before being Registrars, we offer registration services at fair prices, with no hidden fees.Netim
This being taken care of, I could dig deeper into the ins and outs of this ICANN-accredited Registrar specializing in domain name management. Unfortunately, finding some info was not that easy!
Netim is great company especially well-known for the range of domains available on their page. […] Netim offers quality services and good support for customers.WHTop
According to their website, “Netim is an independent French-based company founded in 2004 and fully owned by its founders.” They have a “customer-focused philosophy”, with customer satisfaction being their priority. The 4.8-star excellent score from Trustpilot proves them right. Importantly, they have
a strong price transparency policy. No hidden fees, no unpleasant surprises: you know exactly what you’ll be paying for the upcoming years.
With a strong reputation in the industry and a wide range of services, Netim offers a robust domain platform that stands out for its attention to detail and commitment to customer satisfaction.Samuel Le Goff
The provider has some disadvantages, such as an outdated interface with no user-friendly UX, so the platform can be difficult to navigate. Sometimes, there may be issues with the DNS config, setting up a website, and FTP login.Iryna Krutko
“What about WHOIS privacy, Transfer lock, Auto-renewal, Grace period, and Two-factor authentication?”
“Check, check, check, check, and check!”
Now, assuming that their free email offer includes aliases (unfortunately, most probably not the case), what would it cost me to move from gandi.net to Netim? They charge 13.56 € for the transfer of domains, but their .com at 16.80 € would be cheaper than gandi.net 23.99 € rip-off.
Whether you’re changing domain name or provider, our email address migration tool will enable you to copy all your emails and folders to your new address.Netim
“Great! Could Netim be the real gem that gandi.net used to be?”
Over 11 million registered domain names make IONOS to one of the leading registrars in the world.IONOS’s registrar
“Not as convincing as Netim’s statement.”
Despite its expansion into hosting, its domain service remains solid and reliable.Alex Schenker
“That’s better. And yet, there is no mention of this activity on their About page other than to say that they are
the largest domain registrar in Europe.“
This is the problem with blurry lines; most of the reviews are about IONOS the hosting provider, not the registrar. Yet, as opposed to the previous companies listed, it’s easier to find some info. Like the fact that
IONOS provides significant discounts for domain names in the first year but has
aggressive upselling […], which can be distasteful.
Though IONOS service charges are extremely low in the beginning, there’s no denying the price jump that happens with renewal. In some cases, the pricing remains relatively competitive. For instance, a $1 .com registration costs $17 from the second year onward.Toni Matthews-El
IONOS’ backend user interface is quite complex. It isn’t as modern as what you’ll see in other competitors.Steve Clark
Some customers criticize the company for providing poor service, not answering questions quickly and not responding to queries.Alex Schenker
Again, assuming that 1) their free email offer includes aliases and 2) they are not a hosting provider offering domain names just
to create a full-fledged hosting leader, what does their
1 14.40 € .com offer include? Beyond the free 2GB email account,
you also get free privacy protection for any domain name you purchase on IONOS.
“Okay, and what about the security features that are included (at no additional cost with gandi.net)?”
Although Domain Lock –
The domain transfer lock ensures your domain cannot be transferred by unauthorized third parties – is included for free, this is not the case for the rest:
Take control of your domain and its DNS traffic.
• Secure access rights with 2-factor authentication
• Monitoring DNS Traffic with DNSSEC
• Certificate of Domain Ownership
Valid for all areas of a contract.
€1 excl. VAT for the 1st year (€1.20 incl. VAT), then €15 excl. VAT/year (€18 incl. VAT)
Infomaniak Domains is the domain registrar of the Swiss cloud provider Infomaniak. They support DNSSEC, multi-user accounts and are ICANN accredited.European Alternatives
with almost no reviews on the internet or articles regarding their services, especially the one related to domain name registration, it’s not easy to know if they are worth the shot. If I had limited my search to comparator sites like saashub.com (the popularity category, in particular), I would have stopped immediately. But being the only competitor on my list offering aliases for sure, I dig … and dig… and dig…
An ethical company that’s committed to the environment
We offset all of our CO2 emissions at a rate of 200% and we use exclusively renewable energy.
Is Infomaniak right for you? I don’t know. On one hand, I still think they have a reasonably reliable service for a ridiculously low price. On the other, their client software, support and backend systems lack the maturity of other providers that have been in this space a long time.mrspock33
“Anyway, what does their ‘most complete domain name offer’ include?”
Their .com, which costs 13.80 €, comes with the aforementioned free email service, as well as
Domain Privacy Renewal Warranty one static web page. Regrettably, you have to pay 3 €/year for the domain privacy and
no more than 5% of the value of the service concerned (or
from 3.40 €/year without tax, depending on the sources) for the Renewal Warranty.
“Anyone to help?”
At this point, with no clear alternative to gandi.net except maybe for Netim (and Infomanak Domains), I decided to look at the registrars that did not make it to level 2. How much would it cost me if I would opt for their services? Keeping in mind that a .com with gandi.net will now be 23.99 € and one Mailbox will cost 57.48 €/year.
This little exercise turned out to be more difficult than I thought given the lack of transparency from most of these companies. Trying to find their renewal price (and not their special offer) with tax and in euros was a real challenge. Nonetheless, this alone (i.e., the ‘real’ price of a .com domain) was enough to know that some of them (e.g., Network Solutions) were beyond redemption. Then, when I double-checked that their offer included (free of charge) the critical privacy and security features that I would not go without, there were only five registrars left:
NameCheap – Dynadot – Porkbun – NameSilo – Hover
However, the cost of their email plans (combined with the domain name price) was always above gandi.net price (for the .com domain only) and I still want to believe that I can find a free alternative to GandiMail.
To be continued…