Early this year, I shared that I was looking to migrate to a new domain registrar. I was already trying out one, and I’m very pleased with how it is working out. I’ve now switched several of my domains over to this registrar — Google Domains.
Google Domains is a domain registration and DNS hosting service offered by Google which was publicly launched on 13 January 2015. It’s officially still in beta, and its beta status did put me off initially. Not all Google’s products and services will pan out, and they are known to kill those that aren’t getting anywhere, even if they’re out of beta. After three years of the Google Domains offering, it doesn’t look like this beta service is going away, so I finally took the plunge to try it out.
I was previously with Namecheap. There isn’t really anything very wrong with Namecheap. Unfortunately, like how I abandoned GoDaddy earlier on to migrate to Namecheap, it just takes one very unpleasant experience to drive away customers. In the case of Namecheap, it took them practically a whole full year to update a relatively trivial DNS record which is completely within their control to resolve. I gave up on them.
While Google Domains being a registrar and DNS hosting service may be similar to Namecheap, GoDaddy, and numerous others, the way they conduct their business is totally different. You see, most other companies try to hard sell to you some other products while you’re buying your domain. Google Domains, however, is like a no-frills service. You just go in, choose your domain, checkout, and then go ahead to set things up. No other products are pushed in front of you, and no advertising forced to you, which is rather surprising considering Google makes lots of money from advertising.
If you take a look at the Google Domains website, you’ll see how they’re so focused on their service as a registrar and DNS hosting provider. There are no distractions on their website. Consequently, it is very easy to do whatever it is you’re there for.
That plain and simple-looking website doesn’t mean Google Domains DNS hosting service has been stripped down to the basics. In fact, they do all the extra stuffs that I want, including those that Namecheap couldn’t do, or are supposed to do but don’t actually work. In terms of DNS record types, Google Domains can do the following:
Enabling DNSSEC is a simple matter of just toggling a switch.
Google Domains also makes it simple to provision records for common features, such as to support G Suite. Dynamic DNS is supported, with updates via the dyndns2 protocol, and you can use DDclient for that.
If you so wish, you can host the DNS elsewhere. However, given the simplicity and completeness of Google Domains’ offering, I don’t see why you would want to do that.
Google Domains does cost a little more than the usual budget domain registrars. At this time, the prices per annum for .com, .org, .net and .io domains are US$12, US$12, US$12, and US$60, respectively. At Namecheap, the same domains cost US$11.16, US$13.16, US$13.16 and US$32.88, respectively. ICANN fees have been applied in these prices where applicable.
For some domains, like the .com used for this blog, Google Domains may cost more. It’s only a small difference for a .com. However, Google includes Whois private registration by default, whereas Namecheap charges US$2.88 per year, with the first year usually thrown in free. In the long run, at least for a .com registration, Google Domains will be more worthwhile.
Lookups to Google Domains are good and fast too. In some simple testing with Google’s Public DNS servers (126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52), domains hosted by Google Domains are resolved in 58 ms on average, and 205 ms on average for domains hosted by Namecheap. I know this could be an unfair advantage that favours Google, but it seems like a reasonable benchmark since many users do use Google’s Public DNS.
Be it the completeness of features, price, or speed, Google Domains is looking really good. If you have a domain up for renewal, or want to buy a new one, I recommend checking out Google Domains. There’s just one catch: you need a US-based Google account, which shouldn’t present a major hinderance.