Domain forwarding is a human right!
…Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong. But in my opinion, such a trivial service should be included in the price of domain registration. You would think that all registrars would allow you to redirect your domains elsewhere to encourage you to purchase domains you don’t need.
But sadly, some of the older, more antiquated registrars don’t seem to understand that and insist on charging a few for it. Luckily, the vast majority include it for free.
It’s usually quite easy to set up! Whether they have a special interface for it, or it’s just part of the cPanel, typically you can do it without any coding knowledge. They may refer to it as domain forwarding, URL forwarding, or sometimes website redirect, but it’s all the same thing.
Luckily for you, I did the research and found out which popular registrars offer free website forwarding and which don’t.
Note: if you are redirecting your old site that used SSL/HTTPS, you won’t be able to properly redirect it using “domain forwarding”. You will need to reach out to us or someone like us to provide quality SSL redirect hosting.
Note that these are NOT affiliate links; I have linked them all directly to the pages which reference forwarding on the respective sites.
Registrars which offer free domain forwarding without ads
- 1and1 (I think it’s free but it’s hard to tell)
- Google Domains
Registrars which charge for domain forwarding or place ads
Network Solutions, as one of the first (and easily worst) registrars on the web, has firmly planted itself as the registrar that’s unwilling to change. Virtually all of their domain registration clients have seemingly been there for decades, and they appear to make all of their money off of residuals from existing clients who haven’t bothered to leave them.
Presumably they spend next to nothing on developing a better website, support, or improving anything for their clients, and as a result, are likely very profitable.
This is very bad news if you use their service, and I recommend leaving immediately.
If you’re in a pinch, and have just a domain or two to redirect, it may be worth the outrageous price of $12.99/year. Beyond that, you could easily purchase some super cheap hosting and host each of the sites there with an .htaccess redirect and save money.
Would not recommend.
Register.com owns Network Solutions I believe, and as such is also terrible. In the past, they actually provided a free forwarding service but placed ads in the middle for people to see unless you paid $49/year for “premium” forwarding. It was a bit of a racket.
Now they are priced almost identically to Network Solutions.
I would stay clear.
Price: hosting account
To be fair, InMotion isn’t really a registrar. So it makes sense that they don’t offer this without an additional product. They are primarily a hosting company, and like virtually all hosting, you can easily set up redirects using an .htaccess file.
It’s not necessarily that easy for the layman to do, but it’s not very time-intensive and it works! If you already have a hosting account with unlimited sites, and your registrar of record doesn’t include free forwarding, you could take advantage of it here!
Price: hosting account
Bluehost is also only barely a registrar, and like InMotion, they require you to purchase a hosting account in order to set up domain forwarding. I’m not even sure that all of their hosting accounts offer redirects.
If you’re hosting with them anyway, it might be fine. Otherwise, I’d stay away.
Are there other ways to forward a URL?
If you are stuck at a bad registrar that won’t forward for free: I have good news! You may be able to take advantage of another solution.
Odds are you are hosting another website somewhere. If you happen to have a hosting account that allows for multiple websites at no additional charge, all you have to do is add the domain to that hosting account and include an .htaccess file that redirects the whole domain!
If there is no limit to how many domains you can have, then there’s no limit to how many you can redirect. And additionally: with an .htaccess file, you have much greater control over the redirection. If you want visitors to specific pages to be redirected to different websites, you can facilitate that with your .htaccess file.
Also, you could potentially add an SSL certificate, which would solve the problems posed by the limitation mentioned further down.
Note Regarding SSL Domain Forwarding
Note that typically, with the “Domain Forwarding” built-in to most registrars for free, you cannot redirect URLs that begin with “https”, as that requires proper hosting and a valid SSL certificate. You will need to actually host that website somewhere, set up the forward with an .htaccess file, and ensure there is a valid SSL certificate for the domain.
You are, however, permitted to redirect to an “https” URL from a regular “http” one using standard domain forwarding.
Conclusion: Don’t Use Bad Registrars
There are plenty of good or decent registrars that include obvious things like domain forwarding right-out-of-the-box. There’s no reason to stay with Network Solutions or Register.com anymore.
If you need help migrating domains to another registrar, let us know on our contact page.