Domain Name Choices

Every so often I get an email from a panicky person that their website is down and they can’t figure out why. The first thing I do is look to see if their domain expired. This can happen for a number of reasons.

  • Maybe you changed email addresses and stopped checking the old one, so you missed the reminder.
  • Perhaps your credit card expired in your account.
  • Or even your reminder emails got caught in your junk mail filter.

Whatever the cause, your domain expired and your website is down. This can be a major pain. But don’t panic! Chances are you can login to your account and renew it right away. There’s usually a grace period during which you can renew it without added fees and your site will be back within a few minutes.

What if you don’t realize it’s expired for a while? 

In this situation, you might have to pay a penalty to get back your expired domain. I’ve seen people who have had to pay up to $80 to get back a domain that expired and wasn’t renewed during the grace period. This is a pain, but still not the worst case scenario. You pay the fee, you get your domain back.

But what happens if it expires and goes up for auction?

This is a problem, because you no longer can just pay a fee and get it back. Now you have to bid on it and hope you are the highest bidder. This can be really dicey. Domain squatters are often waiting in the wings to run in and snatch your domain at the last minute.

One time I had a client who let their domain expire until it went up for auction. I bid for it, but I got outbid within 1 minute of the auction ending and even though I clicked through to bid again, I couldn’t make it in time and the client lost the domain. They ultimately had to negotiate with the person who bought the domain to get it back, and it cost way more than if they’d just renewed when they were supposed to.

(A domain squatter is someone who buys a domain and holds it until someone really wants it, then charges a premium for it. Don’t lose your domain to one of these guys.)

Losing your domain can be a real drag, so here’s my advice: don’t let it expire! Keep your credit card information updated and if you change email addresses, be sure to forward your old emails to the new address so you don’t miss those reminders.

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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