PLEASE don’t let your domain name expire

Expired parking meterIt’s happened three times recently. Three clients let their website domain name expire. These weren’t old domains with names they no longer cared about. These were good names, www’s that were perfect for their businesses.

After countless hours of support, stress and agony, we got each and every one of them back. But man, did it cost us and our clients. So let me beg you: please, please, please, NEVER let your domain name expire. Put it on auto-renew, buy 10 years at a time, I don’t care. Just keep it paid up and current.

(If you’re our client, trust me – we won’t let you drop it because we’re going to start pestering you next time it’s up for renewal!)

Let me explain why this is so important…

First, there are few good “.com” names left. Squatters have been buying up anything they think someone might eventually want. All the short and sweet names are gone, so you’re basically left with made-up names, long names, or one of the other extensions, like a “.biz”. Since names like these are harder to remember, they aren’t as good.

Second, if you have a name that’s had some traffic, and you let it go long enough, it goes up for auction. If it’s a good name, it’s likely to get picked up by a squatter. Worse yet, if you have a history of ample traffic, it may get picked up by a porn site, or perhaps an online casino. They don’t care what the traffic was – traffic is traffic, and the small percent they can entice to use their services will make them more than enough money. Failed political campaign sites that lapse are common victims to redirection tactics like these.

When your domain expires, what happens is this:

  1. Your domain is put into a registrar hold status for some period of time, usually 15-30 days. At this point you can go back in and renew it through your original registrar with no problem.
  2. Your domain gets moved to redemption status. At this point, some registrars allow you to renew it if you pay a heavy penalty, usually around $200; other registrars find it to be too much trouble and you’re completely out of luck at this point. ICANN, the regulatory body for domain names, says you should be able to retrieve it but in reality it’s not always possible. Redemption status lasts 30 days.
  3. Your domain moves into “pending delete” status for 5 days. No one can get it back during this period.
  4. Finally your domain is made available to the general public. If you are lucky, you can get it back at this point. Services like SnapNames and Pool attempt to grab it right away. These are your best bet even though they cost a little more than regular registration.

Basically you are looking at up to two months of website downtime, email issues, loads of extra fees and inconvenience, and potential embarrassment if a porn site grabs your old address. Domain registration costs less than $10/year.

Once again, I beg of you: PLEASE don’t let your domain name expire. Ever.

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