Andrew Maybin, of web hosting firm Tibus, explores the best ways of avoiding the potential disastrous consequences of allowing your domain to expire.
Jeb Bush has halted his US presidential campaign. His poor showing in the primaries was the main reason for his withdrawal, but a slightly haphazard campaign was neatly illustrated when his team allowed his website domain to expire. It was promptly registered by a certain Donald J. Trump, who redirected all the traffic to his own website.
The political gaffe brought into focus a tightrope walked by many businesses. Often big companies, even Google in recent months, only remember to renew their domain when it expires. By that stage is could have been re-registered by someone else, causing you to lose your web address, emails and any other data attached to the domain.
Follow these four pointers to avoid that pitfall:
- Register your domain with a reputable registrar
There are lots of options for registering your domain. Make sure you do so with a reputable, UK-based registrar. Look for one with a UK phone number and a physical address here. Dabbling with overseas registrars who offer to register your domain for pennies could leave you on tricky legal ground further down the line.
Visit the Nominet website to see a list of approved registrars.
- Don’t register the domain with your own email address
When registering a new domain, do not do so with your usual email address. Instead, use a specific address, like domainreg@[yourdomain].com. Give several of your colleagues access to this inbox and set-up forwarding so that emails to this account are sent on to each of your personal inboxes.
This will help to combat the main causes of a lost domain, which are:
Staff turnover – the person whose email the domain was registered to leaves the company and you don’t receive any of the reminders. Busy inbox – the person whose email the domain is registered is also responsible for lots of other things and doesn’t notice the important domain renewal email.
Forgetfulness – the person who receives the email intends to action it, but it just slips their mind.
If you did register with your own email address, or you’re not sure whose email address was used, login to your registrar’s account and update to a more reliable arrangement.
- Make sure your domain is set to renew automatically
All reputable registrars will have an option on their control panel to allow you to set your domain to renew automatically. Tick the box, sign the form and do whatever it takes to have this option turned on.
Even if you have multiple domains registered at a given time, the cost of accidentally renewing a domain you had intended to allow to expire will be perhaps £10 or £20. The cost of accidentally allowing a domain that is vital to your business to expire could be enormous, perhaps even fatal to the business.
- Don’t just leave it to the tech guy
Many firms leave everything associated with the website to their web development agency, who are supposed to perform a sort of late 1990s ‘webmaster’ role. Domains are not necessarily their core business area and just because they built your website doesn’t necessarily mean that renewing your domain is a high priority task for them.
Make sure they know what they’re doing. Get them to tell your their polices and processes in relation to domain name management and renewal. If you’re not convinced by the answer, seek out a specialist domain name company to take over the job from them.