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Retaining ownership of your domain

Over the weekend I received emails from two clients, concerned about their websites and domains.

For one their website wasn’t visible and a quick check with http://whois.melbourneit.com.au/ showed me that their domain had expired last week. So the website wasn’t lost but with the domain not being active, the site was no longer visible. So important that domains are renewed by the due date. If I am your domain registrar, I do not have control over this either – late payment means it expires.

The other had been receiving emails to say their domain was due to expire but they weren’t sure how to renew it.

When you own some real estate on the web, it’s very, very important that you have on record the following information:

  • A list of the domains you own and when they are due for renewal (Aussie domains are bi-annual, and other domains are annual).
  • Login access to your domains – are they with different domain registries or with the one?
  • Know who your domain registrar is so that you don’t get duped by fake emails.
  • A record of when your web hosting is due and with whom.
  • Login access to your web hosting account.

While these type of things may feel like they are beyond some of you, it is so important that you have this information stored safely away so that your web host, or someone else you trust that has the relevant knowledge, can assist you when there is the need. Claiming back a domain that has expired is costly (often around $80USD to get it back while during the grace period) but if someone else has bought it you will have lost it entirely.

On the point of domain registries above – I recommend you shift all your domains to the one registry. That way you don’t lose track of what you have and where they are, and you’re less likely to get tricked into renewing your domain with another service – just because they say you need to. I do provide domain registration services at http://domains.acs-webhosting.com if you have that need.

If considering purchasing hosting or email services, please do contact me first to discuss so that I can explain the different options available to you.

Do you really own your domain?

Recent conversations with a couple of clients have shown that they really did not have control over their domain, or hadn’t considered how important it was to track when their domain might be due for renewal. Same with web hosting. This can cause big problems if you wish to shift your site or get work done and the designer disappears or hasn’t given you relevant information.

I often ‘rescue’ clients from situations where previous hosts or designers had registered the client’s domain name in their own name (instead of the client), presumably to keep track of when these things were due. The reality is that a domain name, and the web hosting, should be in your own name, or business name.  As your web host and/or designer I usually make sure I’m added as your tech contact to ensure I can also get notification to prompt you, but the reality is all billing notifications should come to you. Two clients have recently lost access to their sites because their domain name expired and was snapped up by someone else, or because they didn’t have login access at the domain registry relating to their domain name.

A simple search at a WHOIS site will assist you. Two are WHOIS Lookup and Melbourne IT WHOIS. Simply enter your domain name and it should tell you where your domain name was registered (the domain registry), whose name it is registered in, when it was last updated and where the site is being hosted (your web host). Make sure you check and know when your domain is due for renewal and ALWAYS renew it before the due date, NEVER after. There is an $80 charge for retrieving domains that have expired – or could be more, depending on the domain registry.  You should get notice at least a month out, but often long before that, with reminders 4, 3, 2 and 1 week before expiry.

Need help to determine the real ownership of your domain? Contact me today via the form on this site.

Beware Domain Registration scams

Beware of invoices that come in the mail (or by email) for renewal of your domain registration. Hijack domain registrarYou should always know who your domain is registered with and roughly when it may be due for registration. You can expect to receive a notice around 90 days before with reminders 60 days, 30 days and counting down, depending on who your registrar is.

If, like me, you own multiple domain names, then I recommend you stick with one, or two (at the most) registrars and transfer any other domains you have over so that you don’t have them populated everywhere. Very hard to keep track of them all. And keep the domains locked as well, so you are notified if any changes or updates are made to the domain. If you have someone who assists you with your domains and websites, then add them as your tech contact, but you should be listed as the owner and the person to bill, at the very least.

The picture above is of an invoice I received this morning. Straight away two things were evident. The name of the registrar and the cost of renewal. I don’t have any of my domains registered with this company and I certainly do not pay that amount (for those not in the know, it is a much higher fee than normally paid for domain registrations). Closer inspection shows that the domain in the letter is a variation of my domain and is for a net.au which I wouldn’t be eligible for, as I’m not running a network or organisation. And being an Australian domain it would need my ABN number as well. What hurts about this is that these scammers are local. It appears there’s no way of making an official complaint against them unless you have paid these people.

If you do not know who your domain(s) is/are registered with, then you can do a WHOIS search. There are many services online for this. I often use whois.net but you can use others. It should give you information similar to this (which is public information):

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain Name: DANDENONGRANGESPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Registrar: WILD WEST DOMAINS, LLC
Whois Server: whois.wildwestdomains.com
Referral URL: http://www.wildwestdomains.com
Name Server: NS1.ACS-WEBHOSTING.COM
Name Server: NS2.ACS-WEBHOSTING.COM
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientRenewProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 08-aug-2014
Creation Date: 09-aug-2011
Expiration Date: 09-aug-2015

Note the registrar, in this case is Wild West Domains (which I’m a reseller of at www.acsdomainservices.com). I’ve also got the domain locked, hence the status mentioned.

Protect your domain name. It is an important part of your real estate online and has monetary value. The more value you place on your presence online and your website, the more valuable your domain name is. After all, it’s part of your branding and is just as important as your business name registration.

Finally, make sure you always keep your contact details updated with with your registrar. Provide another email address that isn’t connected to your domain, just to make sure you can receive notices other than via the domain address. And make sure they have your postal address and phone number too.

If you have any queries, feel free to contact me.  Alternatively you can read the warning by AuDA relating to the same group that I received the invoice from.

Australian based domain selling

If you have been purchasing and renewing your domains via domainservices.com I wish to notify you that I am now set up as an Australian domain reseller through another server and am gradually transferring all domains I personally own to that new service. I encourage you to do so too – preferably well before renewal is due, or after you’ve paid renewal, so that the domain isn’t in a grace period (preventing transfers when renewal is due).  I will be phasing out domainservices.com in its current set up sometime during 2015.

The new service is on this site at http://domains.acs-webhosting.com/ and you can purchase Australian domains and all the other domains regularly available through different services. When applying to transfer your existing domain it will keep the current DNS settings so won’t change where your site is being hosted, it’s just changing who your domain registrar is. Their system is quite easy to use and I’m still available for support.

I also have a new range of hosting services available, providing cpanel access, with monthly or annual fees. And for those who need lots of cloud space for storing their emails that is also available. You can find it at http://domains.acs-webhosting.com/web-hosting.php.

The hosting service that I have been providing was not set up for email to stay on the server long-term. If you do wish to change over services you can purchase the hosting service you need then submit a request for your site to be transferred to the new server.