domain not foundHave you ever had your website’s domain name expire? How do you know when it is time to renew your website’s domain name? Perhaps you’ve set a calendar reminder, or maybe you rely on an email from your domain registrar to notify you.

What if your reminders fail for whatever reason and your domain name doesn’t get renewed?

Recently the University of Queensland found itself in exactly that position.

What happens when your domain name expires?

If, like the Queensland University, you forget to renew your website’s domain name and it expires, it means that people trying to visit your website are going to be served a “Website not found” page.

Remember, before running off in a mad panic, you can use free online tools to test if your website is down for just you or if it is truly offline for everyone.

Email accounts require a domain name

As well as your website being made inaccessible, any email account that is associated with your website address, such as enquiries@yourdomain.com.au, for example, is also going to be offline. This is bad news for any business.

What do you do in such an emergency?

You’ll need to find your ISP details, log in to your domain registrar and go through an online transaction to pay for another year’s registration.

Beware! Domain Squatters

There is, however, the disastrous possibility that after your registration expired, your domain name became available for registration and someone else registered it before you had a chance to. Though this is a worse case scenario, there are some, often referred to as ‘squatters’, who follow the expiration dates of valuable domain names hoping that they can make use of such an opportunity.

I once had a client who had this happen to him. He’d registered his business domain name but didn’t realise the initial registration period had expired before contacting Vintuitive to build a website for his business. Someone else had in the mean time registered the domain and was offering it for sale…for hundreds of dollars! My client then had to purchase the name back from him and then reregister it. An expensive lesson in domain name maintenance.

What can you do to prevent your website going down?

There are several preventative measures that you can take to ensure your domain name remains up and running and in your possession. Here are just a few:

Set a calendar reminder

If you use a calendar this is probably a fairly reliable method, especially if you can set your calendar reminder to send you an email a week in advance.

Set to auto renew

If you are happy with the company you registered your domain name with then it’s worth considering setting the domain to automatically renew itself and charge your credit card. Auto renew is set as the default on some registrars and it’s worth determining if this is true in your case if you don’t plan on keeping the domain name for longer than the original registration period.

Register more than one year in advance

If, on the other hand you are confident that you’ll be keeping your domain name for a long time and you like the current registrar, then it is much easier to simply register for five or even ten years at a time. This isn’t really much of a gamble considering most .com names can be registered for around $10.

What ever you do, heed this advice and ensure that you remain the master of your domain.

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