Registrars, DNS, VPS, Hosting

Updated 20-Sep-2023

Simplicity is a wonderful thing. For the domain name game and hosting services, there are two kinds of simplicity:

  • A single, monolithic simplicity - aka all-in-one
  • A set of modular simplicities - aka best-of-breed

At this stage in web hosting, domain name registration, and DNS service offerings, the second form of simplicity is the preferred approach to dealing with domain registration, DNS service provision and hosting service providers.

What follows is out of date

Cloudflare has dented this topic with its free (and best in class speed) DNS services and recently added Registrar service (great for .com, but .io is expensive). As of January 2021, what follows (three services, three service providers) has been impacted significantly. In fact, in some cases, Cloudflare could replace each of the three service providers: DNS, Registrar (for .com) and Application Hosting (using Cloudflare workers). For other situations, the 3:3 in fact holds true. With

Three services - three service providers

The current approach we take is to manage service providers at each level of service provision: domain registration, DNS services, and hosting providers. In addition to hosts (actually, unmanaged VPS or cloud services), there are application providers (SAAS/Cloud Apps), such as Google Apps for Domains (including the venerable Gmail/GoogleMail as well as their cloud/web-based office suite).

Domain Name Registration - Porkbun

  • They register and manage the domain nameserver pointers (NS records) that are registered with the 13 top level DNS servers
  • The customer indicates and can change which nameservers to use, based on who the preferred DNS service provider is
  • Cost is approximately $10-35/year/domain (depending on TLD), with per year or multi-year registration
  • Our preferred Doman Name Registrar is currently Porkbun, though I tend to change these every few years when service levels decline and prices increase.

DNS Service Provision - ClouDNS

  • They manage the servers and record entries which point to various services that are hosted at various addresses, including email, web, ftp, jabber, etc.
  • The customer can create and change all the various entries to point to different servers or service providers depending upon what application hosting services they have with service providers (email, web, etc.)
  • Costs should run about $5/month on average, for around 10-20 domains
  • Our preferred DNS service provider is [strike]DNSmadeEasy which is $ 60 USD/year for 25 domains (even cheaper for 10 domains), and $1.95 per domain thereafter.[/strike]ClouDNS which is cheaper than, better management tools, and nearly as fast as DNSmadeEasy (and better customer support, the final deal-breaker with those folks).

This is out-of-date: Cloudflare offers faster DNS for free. The control panel is not as nice, nor is the interface as fast, but ClouDNS can't beat free and fast.

Application Hosting Service Providers - AWS, Github, Netlify

This can be expanded well here or in another article.

  • They manage one or more of the servers which offer particular services, and provide client management interfaces
  • At this level, each application can be considered a unique offering which then uses the best-of-breed approach at a finer level, which enables the use of individual service providers for each service needed, such as email, web, application development, etc.
  • The customer then can individually manage the configuration and content delivered by each given application
  • Cost is from $0 to $200/year depending on service.
  • Our preferred email, chat and cloud-based document sharing and collaboration service provider is a roll-your-own system based on Syncthing and various AWS services (s3, lightsail, ses).
  • AWS is our current Unmanaged VPS of choice, especially Lightsail.
  • Some parts of Github are good for hosting, especially git.
  • There are some specialty providers for things like react apps and the like, including Netlify.

There is more here than AWS, Github, Netlify, as we need to include Gitlab, and Cloudways (on top of Linode), as well as Cloudflare.