Top Level Domains
The “Top Level Domain” (TLD) refers to the extension at the end of a domain name such as .com or .org. In almost all cases these domains are owned and operated by corporations or the governments of countries. Annual fee’s are generally involved to acquire and maintain a domain name with these registrars.
Free Domain Name Registrations?
Don’t be fooled! There are a ton of sites out there that appear to be offering free .COM domain names, but there is always a catch. They suck you in with a free year and then have ridiculous renewal fees, and attempt to lock you in by applying fees for transfer outs. Or your domain name will be free, but only if you commit to a year of their over-priced, sub-par web hosting.
This is not the free domains we’re looking for…
If you want a .com or other premium domain then I suggest you stick with the well known and well respected registrar’s where you know exactly what you are getting with your purchase. Namecheap.com is a favorite of mine as their prices are about as low as it gets and they have an excellent, highly reliable service.
However! There are a handful of country based TLD’s which belong to countries that are so small that they opt to not charge for the registration of domains. Instead, they offer the service for TRULY free to bring in users and have the occasional optional premium service to help keep them afloat.
In this review I will go over all the places where one can register a free domain and what pros and cons to expect from these services.
FreeNom – .TK .ML .CF .GA Free Domain Name Registration
Freenom is a group of TLD’s offering free domain name registrations.
Freenom offers the following domains:
- .TK (Tokalu)
- .ML (Mali)
- .CF (Central African Republic)
- .GA (Gabon).
The service they provide includes free registration of as many domains as you would like. Premium services are offered but completely optional, targetting people who wish to register domains for the purpose of reselling, or the use of “Premium” domains which are generally reserved words or short one-two letter domain names like “F.ML”.
The services offered include free url forwarding of the domain name to an already existing site, hosting DNS records, and creating email aliases for your already existing email provider.
The free service has a minimum number of hits per month that must be maintained to keep active. The number of hits required is quite small, and could easily be maintained via a basic keep alive bot if you do not naturally receive the hits per month required.
Registration requires a valid email account which will receive an activation link. No address information was required meaning the service could be used relatively anonymously.
These 4 domains are my #1 pick for free TLD’s because of the simplicity and the services offered.
cu.cc – Free Domain Registration
Although not a TRUE top level domain, .CU.CC (Cocos) is one of 3 domains that .CC (Cocos) uses to offer free domain names to all users.
CU.CC offers users up to 100 domains for free and up to 1000 domains on premium accounts. Registration requires full and accurate personal details to prevent multiple account creations which may sway some users.
The service provides all the basic features of a domain registrar and allows you to host all types of DNS records or simply have the url forward to your existing page.
cz.cc uni.me Free Domain Registration
Again, not a true TLD, but this company is offering up to 40 free domain name registrations using the cz.cc or uni.me domain name extensions. The site also has a wide array of other domain name options but most of them are straying into the territory where it is obviously a subdomain you are registering and loses some of that marketability to your custom domain name.
This site has all the regular offerings we have seen so far, including DNS hosting and url forwarding.
Some personal information is requested during sign up but I was able to bypass this with fake information and did not seem to trigger any stops in the process.
.FREE Domain Registration
.FREE domains are a global TLD (ie: not owned by a country, like .org or .info) which is speculated to be released later in 2014. The TLD is currently taking pre-registration of up to 20 domain names. Registering for the site does not require any personal information aside from name and email account which is used for activation of any registered domains.
A rationale offered by proponents of the .free proposal is as follows:
The initiative for the top-level domain .free is supported by a multitude of companies and individuals and is the first initiative for top-level domains which will be 100% free. The .free top-level domain will give people from all over the world the chance to own their free top-level domain and offers companies the chance to market their products with the .free domain extension. The .free community is run by the dotFree Group s.r.o. – a Czech start-up company, but also of supporters spread around the world and of people who support the idea of freedom.
Free Domain Concerns
Free domains are often used by spammers, hackers and for other illegitimate purposes. The result of this is that trust for sites using a .TK or other similar type domain have been lowered, and has even got to the point of being banned by Google at one point in time. Although the domains are no longer banned it’s suspected that they are nerfed into the ground for rankings as a protection for Google users again rogue sites. So, if SEO is a big and important part of the site you are wishing to develop, then perhaps it’s best to spend that $10 on a .com domain.