Website Domain names are the primary address a person or a business reserves to establish and distinguish themselves on the worldwide web. This name acts as a billboard, alerting potential customers of who you are, where you are, and what goods or services you provide. A website without a domain name cannot be found since it is not only the storefront sign, but also the doorway into the shop.
So, do domain names expire? Selecting the perfect domain name for your business can be a lengthy process that costs a good amount of your time, effort, and money. But once it’s yours, it’s yours until it expires. So, imagine this process: you get your domain name and link it to your website. You then spend months, if not years, building your brand around it. If successful, people begin to associate your product or service with the domain name. That domain is now an integral part of your business and the way people find you on the internet. Then, you log in one morning and receive a message that your domain has expired. All the hard work, all the time and money invested in building your brand around your domain name and domain name extension is simply not associated with your brand anymore. At this point, your expired domain name is up for sale and available to the highest bidder.
One of the scariest things that can happen to any website owner is discovering that their domain name expired. This business tragedy can and does occur more often than you might think, and it can be absolutely crippling. Not only does someone else get to inherit all the goodwill you have instilled and associated with that brand, but now you have to rebuild and rebrand from the ground up. While there is something to be said for resilience, it is best to save yourself the worry and stress over losing your domain name because it expired. Below, we will discuss the reasons why your domain might expire without your knowledge and then what happens when a domain does expire.
Reasons domain names might expire
It is all too easy to overlook the fact that a domain name registration is a temporary thing. Even though at the time, the domain name is yours, and could be for years, there is still a chance for that domain to pass out of your control. There are a variety of ways this might occur:
- Renewal reminder notices: If you have switched off renewal reminder notices, you could be setting yourself up for disaster. While auto emails and notifications can clutter your inbox, they can also be lifesaving. Even if you manually switched off renewal reminders (for whatever reason), Domain.com will begin sending reminders by email to your listed email address approximately 30 days from the domain expiration date. We guarantee you will receive at least two reminders before the expiration date and one within five days after expiration. So, pay attention to your inbox, or alter your settings to flag the words, “expiration,” or “renewal,” to ensure you don’t miss these important reminders.
- Auto-renew is not enabled: By going by your account information and switching your domain name to auto-renew, you save yourself from possibly forgetting. When auto-renew is in use, it will automatically renew your domain name prior to the expiration date, generally a day before expiration. This feature will continue to run and auto-renew unless changes are made or if there are issues with your billing information.
- Outdated billing information: When you lose a credit card, or it expires naturally, it is easy to forget all of the sites, services, and subscriptions you have tied into that specific card and had previously set to auto-bill. In such cases, the last thing on your mind will be to update the billing information on a domain you rented a years ago and then set to auto-renew. If you do lose or obtain a new credit card, be sure to comb through your bills and see what will need to be updated with proper billing. With Domain.com, if your auto-renew runs into an issue with billing, we will try multiple times to send alerts and reminders that the payment was unsuccessful and that the billing must be updated in order to prevent the domain name from expiring. You may need to manually renew your domain if it is less than 15-days before expiration.
- Multiple domain providers: The more you spread out your domains, the easier it is to forget about them or mix them up, especially if you have invested in a plethora of different website domain names. It is all too possible to have a domain name slip through the cracks and expire because they were scattered across registrars. At Domain.com, we suggest you consolidate your domains into one service. By doing so, you have all of your domains concentrated in one place and linked to one billing account. It makes it much easier to make payments, check domain name expiration dates, or make alterations from a centralized platform.
- Contact email connected to domain: At Domain.com, we encourage you to begin using your brand new domain email address as your primary email source. This is a great thing, except when it comes to domain expirations. If you select your domain email in order to manage the domain name it is linked to, you create a dilemma in that if you forget the account’s password, you will be unable to enter the email in order to retrieve the forgotten password. Further, if the expiration date does pass, you will not be able to use that email during the renewal grace period. For this reason, you should think about adding a secondary email address to your account.
- An expired organizational email address: A problem we encounter all too often with the process behind registering a domain name is that a person will use a work or school email account that requires them to still be actively involved with those organizations in order to access the email account, such as a work, or club email. So, if a person registers a domain name with such an email then graduates school or leaves their job, they will no longer have access to the email address associated with the domain name. In many cases, it will be impossible to be re-granted access to that email due to security issues or a deletion of the account as a whole. While it may still be possible to renew your domain without logging into the account, it makes life far harder on you and increases the likelihood that you miss a domain expiration alert.
- Waited too long to renew: Even though they may have received ample renewal reminders or alerts, some people simply wait too long to renew their domain and pass the point where anything can be done to remedy the situation. On the day of expiration, be assured, you will lose the domain name ownership.
What happens when a domain expires?
There are a variety of steps that will occur during a domain name expiration:
Domain expiration alerts: Prior to domain name registration expiration, Domain.com will begin sending reminders to you via email. At least two alerts will be sent before expiration, and one within five days of expiration.
Domain name registration expires: If the domain has not been renewed by the owner prior to the expiry date, the domain’s status will be changed to what is called a Renewal Grace Period. Under this status, you can still renew the domain name without incurring additional fees for a grace period of thirty days. As early as one day after expiration, your domain name will be deactivated and replaced with a parking page indicating the domain name has expired, and other services you have associated with the domain name may no longer function.
Renewal grace period ends: Once this period ends, the expired domain name’s status is changed to Registrar Hold. During this thirty-day period, the original domain owner may pay a redemption fee as well as the renewal fee.
Registrar auction: While under the registrar hold status, the registrar tries to sell the domain name in an option auction to the highest bidder. If it does indeed sell, the highest bidder will then have to wait the full thirty days of the registrar hold before they own the domain name. If the original owner decides to renew during this period, the bidding fee is refunded and the original owner retains control of the domain name. If the original owner does not renew the domain name and the thirty days pass, the auction winner is transferred control of the domain name.
Closeout sale: If the domain name is not purchased at auction or renewed by the original owner, a registrar will often list it as a closeout sale, where it can be bought for a cheaper ‘buy it now’ price, on top of the domain name registration fee. If a name is bought during a closeout sale, the registrar hold period remains applicable, which allows the original owner the opportunity to regain ownership within the thirty days.
Redemption period: After the registrar hold ends, and if the domain name has neither been purchased nor renewed, the domain name is released back to the registry. Upon release, the domain name is put under redemption period status, meaning it cannot be changed or deleted for thirty days. During this time period, the original owner can pay the redemption fee, plus the renewal fee in order to restore the website and the email.
End of registry grace period: If this grace period ends without the domain name being renewed, it will then be put under the status of pending delete. If no actions of restoration occur on the part of the original owner, registry or registrar, the domain will eventually be deleted. This deletion will then release that domain name back for general registration.
Keep your domain name and website up and running
Domain names play a crucial on the virtual marketplace. Choosing a creative domain name is a time-consuming and important aspect of giving your business the tools to thrive. Such an investment is essential for success, which is why a domain name expiration can be a demoralizing and business-crippling issue, that is only made worse if a competitor manages to snatch up your domain name. All the time and effort spent on building that brand and linking it to the domain name might be all for naught.
The best way to prevent this issue is to do everything in your power to prevent such a disaster from occurring in the first place. This includes regularly checking your email and spam folders for renewal notices, setting personal alerts of expiration, always ensuring that your domain’s billing info is up to date, and setting your account to auto-renew. If you take the right steps, you can save yourself a serious headache, so, do not be anything less than proactive when it comes to one of your domain names possibly expiring. With the right infrastructure in place, this should never be an issue