Over the year I used 5 different registrar, I started by Namesilo (because of the cheap price), with OVH (because of the cheaper price on some TLD), then moved to Gandi (from Namesilo and OVH). I also used Namecheap (an awful registrar), Porkbun and Regery (because of the cheap price on one of the TLD I wanted on a domain I don’t use for now).
Gandi has been my main registrar for years for multiples reasons: great UI, great ethic, France based company. The price weren’t good, but what mattered to me was the rest (as long as my domain don’t cost me more than 20€/year each), the service was great and it was a good company.
However something changed.
On February 2023, Gandi “merged” with Total Webhosting Solutions (TWS):
The problem? It wasn’t a merger, it was an acquisition: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/total-webhosting-solutions/company_financials
When I discovered that I asked someone I know (who know more about tech business buyout than me) what this meant, they said that, companies often do an acquisition when merging, this simplify the administrative burden since they don’t have to create a new legal entity (this makes sense). To check if it’s actually a merger you have to check if the management of the absorbed company are managing the new entity. In Gandi’s case, none of the original Gandi’s manager are managing YourOnline (you can see the proof on their website), the Gandi’s managers are part of the YourOnline “Advisory Board”, which as the name subject give advices, and nothing more. This effectively means that it was a full on buyout.
Which mean that Gandi hid the reality as to appease users after they saw that a lot of people were angry about it.
I personally was basically acting in a “wait and see” phase, it could be bad, yes, but it could also be good.
The problem? The bad started:
- prices went up (by a lot, we’re talking ~10% of some TLD from an already expensive price)
- some stuff that were promised to customers were removed (free e-mail)
After my discovery of the acquisition and multiple discussion with multiple people, I have decider to stop using Gandi permanently.
I spent multiple hours planning my move, I started with my technical requirements (that are pretty low): I need a registrar that can support the TLDs all the domains I own (something that’s easy since I use common TLD). This registrar has to register domains itself, and not be a reseller of someone else. It also needs to be in my country (France), or in a country that is: privacy friendly, politically stable (at a minimum) and “rich”. This registrar has to be in western Europe (but not in the UK because it’s a five eyes member).
Outside of this, my main criteria was good ethic and good customer support. I especially didn’t want a company that could trade ethic for profit (looking at you Gandi).
I also quickly checked the registrar of the Netherlands and Norway, but didn’t really find anything more “go-to” registrars.
Digging more into Infomaniak
I started with Infomaniak, however it was almost instantly disqualified for a single reason: they started less than a year ago to advertise on YouTube. I personally don’t want to use anything from a company that heavily advertise their service.
I still dug into it more just to be sure, and 2 things made me stop considering them:
- they have FAR too many services (a lot of them being really young) which tell me that they’re slowly but surely moving their focus away from domains.
- the domain names’ prices are too close to the registry price, it means that the margin is thin, which surely mean that, if they started advertising recently, the price might go up to make up for it.
All this tells me that, if Infomaniak is “good” today, it might not last long, since they will surely decide that they want more profit.
I’d rather not risk it, and decided not to choose them.
Digging more into Netim
I then started to dig into Netim, and was happy to see 2 things:
- they’re a small company (62 000 registered domains) that ACTUALLY focus on domain names (and they have been doing it for 19 years!).
- they actually reward people who dig into their company: a promo code is given on the about page to thank people for their interest in the company.
For those interested: they offer free e-mail (something Gandi stopped doing) and free 250 MB basic web hosting (something Gandi never did).
I read the contract/TOS and it was all standard for a registrar, except a strange (but acceptable) clause that say that the client agree to allow Netim to cite a them or their website in their marketing or promotion material.
I dug into the user reviews, and they were almost all good (most of the one who were “bad” where made by customers who don’t know how domain work and who blamed Netim).
The prices are higher than most, but still lower than Gandi, which mean they are sustainable, which is good, because it means that they have no reason to sell out.
Trying out Netim
After those research I decided to try out Netim, I started by migrating 2 (unused) domains, I was really pleased by what I saw: the UI was great, and I honestly consider some part of it better than Gandi (a registrar that was known to have the best UI).
Some (rare) stuff needed to be done through their legacy UI, but the most important stuff could be done from the main UI (in my findings the only things that had to be done from their legacy UI is enabling/disabling registrar locking and generating the transfer code - basically something that you only do once, when you leave).
The only part that is sadly missing is “direct” DNS zone modification, something that isn’t available in most registry, but something that Gandi had.
Moving to Netim
I decided to move to Netim.
I started to move all my domains one by one, during my move I did try to move a domain that was transferred less than 2 months ago to another registrar (by ICANN policy), which mean that it couldn’t be transferred to Netim. I opened a support ticket at 22:00, and the next morning before 9:00 the domain was instantly refunded as credit (I was asked if I preferred a refund on my bank account) without any other question asked. This is amazing to see.
Gandi became bad, but Netim is doing what Gandi was doing, except they’re still independent.
They’re a small but profitable company, which mean you get a top tier support.
This is rare to find a company that use their good ethic and great support as their main marketing argument, so I’ll gladly enjoy it while it last!
Before posting this blog post I wanted to get an Netim affiliate link, I did read the affiliate contract, and some clause were not-so-great, this is why I wont give you any affiliate links. This contract wont affect any “normal” user, so it’s not a problem.