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When you register a domain name, you do so for a period of time. When that time expires, you must renew the registration otherwise your website will stop working and you could lose the domain.
This means two things (are you ready for this?):
- You don’t own your domain name. You only rent it.
- If it expires and you forget to renew it, you could lose your domain name forever.
It’s a scary thought isn’t it? One day you could wake up to find your website’s fallen off the internet and somebody else owns the domain because they bought it when it became available again.
Let me just say this to put your mind at ease – the chances of this happening are very slim, and I don’t want you to worry about it, just be aware.
Let’s dig a little deeper into what all this really means.
We’ll start by talking about your domain and this idea of ‘renting’ it.
It’s kind of true, and yet, at the same time, it isn’t.
You see, you do own any domain registered in your name (you can sell it), but if you allow the registration to lapse, somebody else can come along and whip that domain right from under your nose.
Even if you’ve owned it for a gazillion years.
After they’ve done that, they can upload a site and take control of your territory.
They won’t have your website and its contents (unless they’ve copied it), but they will have the authority attached to your domain.
What are the chances of this happening?
In fact, if you’re working on your website every day, there’s no chance of it happening at all.
Because, when your domain expires, your site stops working. You’d look into why it’s not working and discover the domain expired. You’d then whip out your credit/debit card and renew it before you have time to catch your breath.
A little while later (I’m talking hours, if you’re very lucky, under 60 minutes), your website emerges looking the same as always.
Now, if you’re travelling or otherwise engaged (you may be sick in hospital) and your domain expires, you have a problem. It’s not an end-of-the-world problem, but it is a problem.
When the domain expires you have some time to renew the domain at the standard price before it becomes available for anyone to buy.
If you don’t renew the domain during the allowed time, your registrar will likely charge you a hefty redemption fee on top of the standard renewal charge.
For example, a domain in an EXPIRED state can usually be renewed for the standard renewal price.
After it leaves the EXPIRED state, expect to pay more. My registrar, Fasthosts, charge £200 and namecheap charge $200.
Here’s a domain I own, which is expired but still available for renewal at the standard price.
And here’s an expired .com. I have 40 days to renew it before being hit with the £200 (+ 20%} VAT) redemption fee.
This comes from the FatCow page on expired domains and talks about its own deletion cycle:
EXPIRED: A domain name that has expired can stay in the Expired status from 1 to 45 days. 45 days is the maximum. Most Registrars use between 28 and 45 days for their Expired status. A domain name in the EXPIRED status can still be renewed quickly and inexpensively for the cost of a one year registration.
REDEMPTION GRACE PERIOD (RGP): After a domain name has been through the EXPIRED status it falls into RGP where is remains for 30 days. This period is ICANN mandated and cannot be shortened. Once a domain name falls into RGP it becomes much more expensive to retrieve and renew. Expect to spend upwards of $160US and as much as a week to “redeem” a domain name that has fallen into RGP.
PENDING DELETE: After the RGP a domain enters the PENDING DELETE status and cannot be renewed or redeemed. Domain names are PENDING DELETE for 5 days. After five days the domain name will be released to the public and anyone can register the name. You may be able to wait and register it upon release. Be aware that if your domain name is popular it may be snapped up by one of the many “back-order” companies like SnapNames.com. You are free to use such services to attempt to recapture your domain name as well.
Please bear in mind – the company you’re with, the registrar, might operate under different timings. Be sure to check out their FAQs, check in the settings area or ask the question via the support systems.
How to prevent your domain expiring
After reading all this, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know there’s something you can do to stop your domain expiring.
Actually, there’s two things.
One: Renew your domain name for longer than the minimum period. Try five years. Or ten.
Two: Use the automatic renewal option provided by many registrars. This is the perfect solution if you don’t want to register your domains for a longer time. The biggest issue comes from renewing domains you don’t want or need.
You might have tried launching a blog about a new hobby, which ultimately failed or you’re no longer interested in. Automatically renewing, in this case, is stupid.
For your main business domain, you should definitely set up the automatic renewal feature. It will put your mind at ease and ensure your website and blog is always online.
For extra security, register with a site like Uptime Robot. It sends you an email when your site goes does down. When you get a “your website is down” message and don’t get a “your website is up” message a few minutes later, it could be because your domain expired.
Check your renewal date
If you don’t know the renewal date, go check it now. The information you need is inside your registrar/hosting account.
Make a note of the date and set a reminder in your calendar.
While you’re checking, and if you like the automatic renewal idea, see if it’s available and activate it.
With a bit of foresight and planning, you will never find yourself in the terrible situation outlined in this post, and if you do, I hate to say it, you only have yourself to blame.
If you choose to not renew for a longer time or set up the automatic renewal function, watch out for the email letting you know your domain is due to expire. Most companies send them.
Also, make sure you use an email address you always have access to and you regularly use. These are the kind of emails you don’t want to miss. And when you get it, act upon it before it’s too late.
It’s your turn now…has this happened to you? What did you do to fix the situation?