The perils of forgetting to renew your domain name

Domain name renewal

It can so easily happen. Domain name registrations comes and goes; it’s always something that can be put off to another day. Domain names for many businesses, especially online businesses are their bread and butter. No domain name means no website, and may also mean no email, no online presence and sometimes no revenue.

There are plenty of examples.  Recently, we heard about an Indian online travel agency that somehow forgot to renew their domain name, and their business being online only meant that they had no business for a few days while they scrambled to get their online presence back in order.

It’s cruel to mention names as there are many examples, but in this case the website was replaced with a parked page, with a note to say that the page has expired. The company undoubtedly lost a lot of business and revenue with differing media reports noting its main competitor was taking over 14,000 bookings and 6,000 transactions per day in the previous quarter.

But this company is not the only one that forgot to renew their domain name. In the last few weeks a leading British bank also forgot to renew their domain name and this caused outage and havoc, especially for customers trying to access their accounts online.

It is surprising that such instances are still common amongst a some-what savvy online market place. So how do these things happen? And how can they be avoided?

Often it is because contact details for the domain name go to an individual, and this person/s, could have left the business. With .com domains, they can be registered for up to ten years, and a lot can happen in this period.

To avoid such instances, companies need to ensure that contact details for registrations point to a generic or group email address and not to an individual. If a person who is the contact leaves, and their email address dies, then the reminder emails may go into a black hole. Some registrars will try and call the company to remind them about it, but this cannot be guaranteed. Others leave the responsibility of registration to web designers, but what if you change web designers? Best practice is not to leave all contact details with them either.

So what steps can be taken to avoid these mistakes?

There is a requirement when registering domain names for three contact fields to be completed. Try and use more than one contact, and use different email addresses.

These three contacts have three different purposes.

One is the ‘admin’ contact, which is the most important contact and should be an administration address or generic email address rather than into the personal inbox of a manager.

The second is the ‘billing’ contact, and here it would be advisable to use an accountant, finance department or bookkeeper’s details, and third is the ‘technical’ contact which ideally would be the webmaster, site designer or IT consultant who can take action on any details. It’s also advisable to have at least one email address not use your domain name and use an external address just in case there is a technical problem with your site related to the domain name.


4 October 2013

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