For years I’ve done all my domain registration through DreamHost. They’re fine for basic domain registrations, especially if you don’t plan on needing to update your DNS records often or especially if you host sites with them anyway.

As I’ve started to experiment more with managing servers, I’ve been doing many more DNS tweaks, which puts me at the mercy of DreamHost’s uneditable four hour TTL. This four hour TTL is fine for most purposes, I just personally found it kind of annoying when I wanted to update things on the fly.

I decided to try out a couple different registrars, just to see what they have to offer. I picked Gandi, simply because I used them for a project back in 2004 and pairNIC because they market themselves as a socially responsible company and are carbon neutral.

I plan to compare the domain registration and DNS hosting services of DreamHost, Gandi, and pairNIC in later posts, but what immediately struck me when I attempted the transfers was that the time to complete them varied from less than a day to almost a week.

 

Domain Transfer Timelines

.org transfer from DreamHost to Gandi: less than 1 day
.com transfer from DreamHost to pairNIC: 6 days

The .org transfer was so quick and efficient that I was worried something was wrong with my .com request. Once I noticed the transfer was taking longer, I reached out to pairNIC support to make sure things were moving along. Here’s their response:

After the Administrative Contact approves a transfer, it generally takes six days to complete the transfer. There is a mandated five day period, but we have also found that it can take one day for the notification to reach the current registrar on COM or NET transfers.

A reasonable response, as I had seen the six day timeline quoted elsewhere. I then asked why my .org transferred so quickly while the .com one was lagging behind. pairNIC promptly responded:

The COM and NET registry handles things differently from the ORG registry, so we have found that ORG transfers are often completed more quickly than COM transfers.

After the transfer is approved, the loosing [sic] registrar is notified. We’ve found that the notification is quicker for ORG transfers. Once they are notified, they should contact the owner with the option of waiting five days, or completing the transfer more quickly. It sounds like you got that contact from DreamHost for the ORG transfer and then completed it the same day. If you haven’t received anything similar from DreamHost for [your domain], you may want to contact them to see if they can resend it.

This response was spot on given what I saw during the transfer. I’d very much be interested in seeing if this waiting period is same with different registrars. It’s really bizarre to think that a .com or .net  domain takes almost a week to transfer when a .org can be done in a day. Of course, the registrars can’t be faulted for silly rules made by TLD registries, but I certainly hope the speak out and call them out on such policies.

It would be interesting to do a series of domain transfers between registrars so one could more easily compare apples to apples. Perhaps a project for another time?

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