If you own or operate a website online, then you are probably somewhat familiar with domain names and hosting. What many website owners do not realize, however, is that these things can and will expire. If you like your website domain name and do not want it to get auctioned off to the highest bidder, it’s very important to remember to renew your hosting and your domain name each year. Not renewing your domain name or hosting in time can be costly, sometimes, irreversible!
What is a Domain Name?
Talking about domain names and hosting can be a somewhat confusing and abundant topic, so for this post, I am going to focus on the importance of renewing your domain name(s). A domain name, in website hosting, is sort of like a vanity license plate on your car. All websites online have an address that is actually a series of numbers called an IP address. A domain name is just a string of text that is translated to that IP address. At Gaslight Creative, our domain name is gaslightcreative.com
How Can I Register a Domain Name?
In order to use a domain name, you need to register it and pay a fee to keep it registered. Typically, registration fees are annual and vary in price based on what’s to the right of the dot. For example, a “.com” domain name will probably cost $8 to $12 to register and maintain each year. You pay these fees to a domain name registrar, like Uniregistry.com or Enom.com. Once you have your domain name, you’ll need to pay the registration cost to renew your domain name every year or pay for multiple years in advance.
If you miss a payment to renew your domain name, there is usually a redemption period where you can still renew it, but many times this will cost you extra. Reclaiming an expired domain through redemption will likely cost you around $100, depending on your registrar. Redemption periods can vary from registrar to registrar. So, if you made the mistake of forgetting to renew your domain name and it’s only been a few days, contact your registrar right away and see if you can redeem it.
Don’t Let Your Domain Name go to the Sharks!
If you miss your renewal AND let your domain pass the redemption period, it will drop from the registry and either go to auction or become available to anyone else that would like to register your name. If you’ve let your domain name drop through the redemption period, don’t count on being able to renew it. Often times if it’s a good name, people will backorder the domain name. Yes, there are internet sharks waiting around for a good piece of bait (in this case a domain name) to drop into the water. This involves paying a domain name catching service to try to grab the domain name the second it drops and becomes available. These drop-catching services charge a fee for their service and if there are multiple backorders for the same domain name, the service often sends the name to auction.
Your expired domain name will go to auction if multiple people have put in backorders at domain name catching services. Domain names that go to auctions will have multiple people bidding on the domain name. The highest bidder wins the name. If this happens to your domain name, the new owner may not be willing to sell it to you, after all, they battled for it at auction. If they are willing to part with the domain name, you can expect that they’ll want to be paid for their trouble and effort to get the name.
Yes, This Happens More Than You Would Expect!
Recently, a foster agency made the mistake of letting their domain name drop and it was picked up by someone else. The new registrant was only willing to sell it back to the foster agency at a premium, almost $12,000 dollars! It’s certainly not a situation that anyone wants to be in, but let me point out that this could easily have been avoided had the agency been paying attention and not let their domain name expire, go through the redemption period, and ultimately drop for someone else to register.
The lesson here is to pay attention to your domain names and their expiration dates. It’s costly to let them expire and the consequences can be irreversible. With the busy lives we live today, it is easy to let a yearly bill slip through the cracks, but it is important to treat your domain name registration as important as any other bills you may have. It’s no fun having the electricity turned off because you forgot to pay a bill, but can you imagine if you called your energy provider and they told you service to your home was no longer available because they decided to sell it to your neighbor?