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Free Subdomain "Registrar" Services Can Be Costly To Business 

Published July 7, 2011

Some services offer free or very cheap domain names, in the form of a subdomain. These services may be fine for hobbyists; but can be risky for businesses.

A subdomain service provides domain names in the form of; where is the registration services' domain name, or one under their control. Some are free, ad-supported services and others sell subdomain names in bulk, often working out to just a few cents for each "registration".

Popular for use with personal web sites, these services can also attract their fair share of dubious users. Google recently announced it had detected a number of bulk subdomain providers being targeted by malware distributors and peddlers of fake anti-virus software applications. In more than one case, the company's malware scanners have found more than 50,000 malware domains associated with a single provider.

In the interests of protecting people running Google searches from visiting these sites and those users' systems possibly being compromised, the company has said  "in some severe cases our systems may now flag the whole bulk domain." 

This has already begun. According to a number of reports around the web, including one from The Register, Google has removed over 11 million domain web sites from its results; in effect, every web site using a subdomain name.

For any online business caught up in the purge, it could mean disaster as Google is often the main source of free traffic for many web sites. For the comparatively small fees involved with registering a proper domain name and hosting a site with a reputable company; it's cheap insurance against such a thing happening. 

Using a subdomain provider also puts users of such services at the mercy of the provider and ties them to that provider, whereas registering a "real" domain name allows portability and flexibility in how and where a domain name is used; the ability to transfer between registrars and additional protections and rights.

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