Hover.com Review

Hover.com is a nifty little domain registrar I heard about on one of Leo Laporte’s podcasts. This company is actually run by Tucows Inc. – a rather well known Internet establishment, famous for its software download portal, and its recent foray into the mobile world with Ting.com. Hover strives to simplify domain name and email address management without dumbing it down to the point that the user loses control. In addition, Hover goes to great lengths in providing its customers with first class telephone and online support.

If you’re prospecting, I can assure you these aren’t tall tales. I have moved all of my domains and e-mail over to Hover.com in recent weeks. They’re dependable and affordable at $15 per domain.

Domain names are the web’s plumbing of sorts – casual internet users pay little attention to them, after all, what’s in a name? However, more advanced users realize the added-value of good domain names. Because their lifetime can span multiple years – or in some cases – decades, I recently decided to consolidate my domains and e-mail addresses and move them to a single, trustworthy registrar. This turned out to be Hover.com.

Dumping (on?) Go daddy

Of late, most of my hosting and DNS were managed by Go Daddy, a dirt-cheap and [slightly] lackluster provider based out of Arizona, USA. Go Daddy also appears to be one of the main competitors Hover is trying to target: they provide meticulous guides for Go Daddy customers on topics like unlocking domains, getting authorization codes and the like. Hover is quite clearly touting ease-of-use as its main vector for winning over Go Daddy users. And rightfully so: Go Daddy’s website must be the world’s most convoluted and hairy management interface ever. It turned out to be the single most irritating thing about the whole experience – it’s just so damn hard to figure out!

To be fair, Go Daddy did serve its purpose. Their “buy a domain and throw in hosting and email for free”-approach enabled me to own a bunch of domains and email aliases for next to nothing. But, I got what I bargained for in the end – a lousy management interface and non-existent support. Times have changed, however, and Hover fills in the gaps nicely, albeit at a marginally higher cost.

The Good

Fast and easy signup. True to Hover’s credo, the signup process was a frictionless experience. They make a point out of not upselling their other products and services. You only get what you ask for, and in this case that’s a good thing. There’s a fine line between apropos upselling and a downright bombardment of useless offers.

Sadly, Go Daddy falls right into the latter category. Even though these schemes allow for the occasional lightning deal, the customer is burdened with diligently reading the fine print before clicking “Next”. More often than not, customers are left behind somewhat distraught, and uncertain of their purchase.

Easy management interface. As stated above, administration of domain names and e-mail addresses is multitudes more convenient than some of the competition (I won’t harp on Go Daddy any further).

Customer service. While I haven’t required Hover’s telephone support services so far, I can vouch for their online support portal. The turnaround for e-mail based inquiries is one business day or less. They also follow up your request with care if required.

Transfer pricing at just $10. Customers who move over their domain get a great deal: one year over the existing renewal date for just 10 USD. You can optionally let Hover take care of all the transfer hassle free of charge.

[update] Free WHOIS/domain privacy. As Michael Yurechko mentions in the comments, Hover also offers WHOIS privacy at no additional cost, a service other registrars often charge for. With WHOIS privacy, your contact information is hidden from the public WHOIS registry. Hover’s administrative contact information is displayed instead. This keeps spam and other unsolicited email at bay. Thanks for the note, Michael!

The Bad

Regular pricing is slightly more expensive at $15 per year, per domain. Not quite the bargain when competing registrars come in at a lower price point, e.g. Go Daddy charges $13 for the first year (and $15 for subsequent renewals).

Mailbox pricing at $20 per e-mail address, per year. One sore point with Hover is the rather steep e-mail pricing. Even if all you’re doing is forward to another address, the same pricing structure is upheld. Go Daddy throws in e-mail for mere pennies. Put into perspective, on the other hand, one might argue that $1.67/month/mailbox is hardly a heist. It just depends on how many of them you intend to own, I guess.

No hosting. This is by no means a criticism; I was just dismayed to realize their great service does not extend to web hosting. Hover directs its customers to a select group of specialized hosting companies like SquareSpace and MediaTemple instead.