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Why Not to Let Your Domain Name Expire February 3, 2011

Posted by flutebrarian in Domain Names.
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What a day. A new client of mine expressed concern that their domain name had expired and their website was down. The frantic client had become the “accidental website manager” with no information about where the domain was registered. After a whois search, I determined the DNS owner and proceeded to make some calls.

The whois record stated gloom and doom (it had expired in early December) – “Pending delete restorable” , “Registrant ID: Domain-Resale”, and “Registrant Name: Pending renewal or deletion”. What did all this mean?

I learned that after a domain name expires, the owner has a grace period of 30 days to easily reclaim and renew the domain name. Beyond that, there is a 5 or so day period when the domain name goes into a redemption period. You can still get the name back fairly easily, but it will cost you.

Well, it’s been 60 days or so since it expired. The name was deleted from the domain name administrator’s database and returned to the registrar for the whole Internet. Oh great.

Fast forward about three phone calls and visits to as many registrar’s websites. Each one seemed to get harder to navigate and the friendly toll-free numbers began to disappear like the treeline of a tall mountain.

Finally, in desperation, I returned to the original DNS administrator’s toll-free line and found a helpful soul on the other end of the line.

He gave me a couple options:

  • Pay the steep redemption fee and they would do all the legwork with the forms
  • Backorder the domain and bid on it with the hopes of getting the name back

After conversing with the tech about the pros and cons, I decided to not gamble with the client’s domain name and take the first option. He told me there were no guarantees with either option, but the former would likely take as few as 6 or 7 days while the latter would only become available when the name was formally released to the public.

In either case, the client is still going to be without their site for at least a couple more weeks.

Moral of the story: Keep track of your sites. Record where they are registered with expiration dates. If you don’t set up automatic renewals, then make sure you keep the contact person’s email address current.