I had always heard that it was a recommended practice to register your website domain with one company, but host it with a different one. Many companies offer both services, and often with a discount, so I never quite understood why. When I would ask around why this was recommended about the only answer I would get is that you don’t want to keep your eggs in one basket.
There’s a better reason.
Website domains are legal property that have value. Cash value. While they are often acquired cheaply and quickly, sometimes on a whim even, they still remain the legal property of the owner. Therefore, there are many safeguards in place to prevent them from being transferred too easily. The last thing you want to do it have to try to recover a stolen website domain. It’s not a fun, easy, or quick process.
Hosting on the other hand has no such legal implications. It’s a service someone provides. If you don’t like one service you can easily find another. Pretty much the only legal implication is the contract you signed agreeing to pay them and their agreeing to provide some level of service.
Nearly all difficulties that arise with a website come from hosting issues, not domain registration issues (unless you forgot to renew). Downtime, hacking, and slow loading are all hosting issues. And these are the issues that cause frustration and the desire to switch companies.
When you get fed up and have had enough, if your domain is registered with one company and hosted with another it is a simple matter of purchasing new hosting services and then going back to your domain registration company and essentially saying make my website address go to the new company instead of the old one. While there a some technical issues with migrating a website, a good hosting company can help you out and get you switched over quickly.
If however, you are fed up with a company and they register your domain, it can be a very different process. There are certain times when you cannot transfer your domain registration, such as shortly after registering it and around the time that it is up for renewal. We’re talking months here, when you are blocked from making an exit from a company you may have come to hate. While you could transfer your hosting during this time, your domain will have to remain with the now-out-of-favor company until that window expires. This can be aggravating in some circumstances.
While it may seem to be a hassle to have to deal with two companies, and two bills, the flexibility it offers when things don’t go as anticipated is worth the trouble. Personally, I prefer to register my domains with Network Solutions or Hover and then host websites with companies best suited to a particular website’s needs. Shopping around can help you find good companies, but I always like to have an exit strategy and alternatives.