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This information must be out there, but a search for "DNS registrar and host" hardly brings the educational content to the top, so I'd apprecate any pointers
On this side of the planet we have seen so many problems for folks that have gone out and registered their own domain via whatever services... or had someone or someone's service register it for them.
It can be quite a problem excel. The ISP I work for has a standing policy of using our name for the Technical and Billing contacts. Primarily because we want to be notified if anyone attempts a DN modification and when renewals come due because, well... our clients are the brightest bulbs in the pack when it comes to managing thier DN record.
I had a client lose their DN because they insisted on being the billing contact (thought we stacked on additional charges for the service - which we don't) and then didn't pay the bill when it came due. 3 months later they call me to complain about our mail server not sending or receiving thier DN mail. About a minute into it I made the discovery and they weren't very happy. But...they wanted that responsibility.
The lesson is, if you know what you're doing, you can have a lot of control using a trust worthy services. If you don't - be willing to pay for quality and reliable services. For my money, I don't mess around with the second tier registrars (those custom branded resellers that buy DNs from the official ICANN registrars). I go directly to the source. Yes it costs me a few bucks more $35/yr as opposed to $15 or $12 but I've used them for years and they were the original registrars before it all went public.