Should you purchase a separate domain or use a free domain from Hosting provider?

When you start looking for hosting domain, you will be tempted to see different offers from the hosting providers where they give you a free domain with a hosting account.  For example if you purchase a hosting account from Webhosting Hub or FatCow, they will give you a free domain. Now the question is whether you should use your free account as a primary domain account OR you should purchase a domain from a separate domain provider (e.g. www.namecheap.com)

There are pros and cons of both which I will mention below:

Using the FREE domain provided by hosting company

PROS:

  1. The biggest advantage being that it is free!!
  2. Since you have the hosting and the domain from the same company, it will be very easy for the Customer Support to help you in issues where you want CNAME/A records updated etc.
  3. You don’t need to update the MX records etc for using the mail services of your hosting company. They will be automatically propagated (don’t worry too much if you don’t want to, about this point…)

CONS:

I would like to emphasize more on the Cons as I prefer not to chose this option 🙂

  1. BEWARE! If you plan to keep this domain for lifetime (meaning for very long term), please make sure that your hosting provider is giving it free for the term you are hosting with them. For example when I hosted at FatCow, they gave me the domain free with the hosting, but after 1 year I was supposed to pay their regular price, which was far costlier than what is there on the market (For 2nd year at FatCow I was supposed to pay approx $13/yr compared to $2 I am paying now using namecheap via a promotion!)
  2. If you are maintaining multiple domains, it becomes difficult managing one single domain at the hosting provider and all the others at the domain provider. Believe me it really helps if you have all your domains managed at the single location.
  3. Some domain provider provide give you  a free whois guard which you most probably won’t get with your hosting provider
  4. Many hosting provider have 90 days/30 days money back guarantee if you don’t like their services. If you do so, you will get your money back, but most likely they will charge you the domain cost which will of course be higher than market rate 😉

Manage all your domains separately

Now this is the option I prefer. I will give you the PROS and CONS so that you can decide yourself.

PROS:

  1. The biggest advantage of having the domain separate is flexibility! Just imagine if you have to switch the domain provider before the trial period, you will not have to go through all the hassle again to configure each and every thing 😀  Moreover even if you have completed the tenure at one hosting provider, its fairly quick and easy transition
  2. Most domain providers give discounts. For example I use namecheap and every now and then they give you long term discounts. So imagine if you can get a domain for lifetime (or say 3-4 years), it will give you immense flexibility to chose whichever hosting provider you want and whenever you want.
  3. Based on my experience, transferring domain from one domain provider to another is fairly easy compared to transfer from the hosting provider to another domain provider. There is always a catch. I almost lost my original domain (abhizworld.com) and had to purchase a new one (abhiztips.com) because FatCow did not release the domain after my contract expired. The reason they gave was that only an active domain could be transferred and I was supposed to buy it from them and only then transfer it to a new domain provider !!
  4. Even if you have your domain from a domain provider and not a hosting provider, you have too much flexibility to configure things to your needs

CONS:

As of now I cannot think of any, but if you know of some based on your experience, please feel free to share it in the comments section.