Lost a domain by mistake? It happens more often than you think!
Imagine this: you are a website owner and suddenly you find that your website has disappeared, your email has stopped working and an organization or person you’ve never heard of is now listed as the owner of your domain name. To face a situation like this sounds like a nightmare, but actually is surprisingly common.
The good news is, we’re here to help!
How can it happen and what does it mean to be a domain owner?
As a domain owner, also called registrant you acquire the right to use, renew, restore, or transfer for the particular domain name. This is only the case for as long as all fees, terms, and additional requirements are paid and followed. Every domain name comes with an annual renewal fee and the particular terms. When the fee isn’t paid or the name gets cancelled, you lose the rights and someone else can register / purchase it.
The main reasons why domains get deleted by mistake
- The owner did not enable or set their domains to auto renew
- Renew reminders bounced or ended up in a mail box from a previous employee or spam.
- Forgotten to update payment information (expired credit cards)
- Turned off renewal notification emails
What can you do to avoid losing your domain name?
Before explaining what to do to avoid losing your assets, it is important to understand some definitions:
The legal owner is an individual or business that registered the domain name. This person or organization has the control of it. Thus meaning the technical control, connection control and also the control to sell the domain.
Registrar and resellers
Domain names are bought and registered through a domain name registrar. There are literally hundreds of domain registrars and resellers in the market. They sells domain names like .com , .net and country code domains like .co.uk, de., nl to the public.
Above the registrars there is the domain registry an organization that is in charge of the general administration rules and terms. Every domain ending has a registry in charge of it. As an example it is Verigisn for .com names, Denic for .DE domains, SIDN for .nl domains. They manage and create domain extensions, and work with registrars to sell those domain names.
The ICANN is a non profit organization that coordinates management of the Internet’s naming system and imposes general rules and regulations. The hierarchy places ICANN at the top, followed by registries, registrars, resellers, and finally, registrants. A little help to understand the structure could be this comparison:
The Government (ICANN) regulates the production, distribution, and quality of the product. Factories (registries) need to produce and supply it to distributors (registrars). The distributor then stocks the stores (resellers) with the products, which is purchased by customers (registrants).
Your domain name is one of your business most important assets.
Do you really own the name?
It is important to understand that if your website is connected to a domain name, it does not automatically mean that you are the legal owner. Quite often website developer companies register domains for clients and not all of them use the name of the client as the registrant and administrative contact. Having the wrong name on your domain registration can cause frustrating and expensive problems.
Domain checklist to avoid losing your assets
- Login at your registrar account and verify that you are able to change the holder data and settings.
- Check the registrant name, email address and telephone number.
- If you use a privacy protection service then also check that account to ensure correct information.
- Check the expiration date of your domain and create a reminder to renew it well before expiration.
- Set the domain settings at your registrar on auto renewal.
- Do not rely on notification from your domain registrar.
- Make sure you fulfil the registry rules and regulations of the domain extension.
- If you didn’t register the domain name yourself and it is in another person’s or company’s name, ask them to immediately change it into your name and contact information.
- Guard and protect your domain names and account at all costs.