Having a website is the 21st century equivalent of having a Yellow Pages listing in the 20th century. If you’re a business owner it’s not a luxury; a clean, informative website is an absolute must for helping people find you and letting them learn about your goods and services. (For sign shops and other graphics professionals it’s also a great place to show off your work.)
But what if you wake up one day and your website is not just down—it’s not even there anymore? Janet Attard, founder and CEO of small business resource center BusinessKnowHow.com, addressed this very problem in a 2016 article she posted.
“When was the last time you checked your domain name registration? If you don’t check the registration status of your domains regularly, you could be in for a very unpleasant surprise. Your site could disappear, or worse, you could lose your domain name. Here’s why:
In an email to their customers this past winter, a major credit card processing company apologized for connectivity issues their customers had had in the previous day. They explained the reason connectivity problem and the inability for some merchants to process credit cards was due to the ‘expiration of a primary end point domain name.’ In other words, the domain had disappeared from the Internet.
Although the company had had all their domains set to auto-renew, the domain in question did not auto-renew for some reason. The company never received a notice that the domain needed to be renewed or that it was about to lapse. (It could be that the domain registrar did send the notice, but it went to an unread mailbox, or was just ignored.)
In this case, the domain owner was able to remedy the problem within a day or two. But expired domain issues can’t always be fixed that quickly. And in fact, with smaller businesses, the owners may not even become aware of the problem for days or weeks or longer … or sometimes not until they discover someone else has acquired and is now using the domain name they thought was theirs.
How to Keep Your Domain Name Safe
So how can you safeguard the domain name or names your business uses? The answer is to monitor your domain registrations and their renewal information on a regular basis, paying attention to these common causes of accidental domain name registration loss.
Be sure the credit card or cards associated with your domain name renewals are current and valid. If you’ve changed cards (and cancelled the original one) or if your address or the renewal date on your cards have changed, the domain registrar won’t be able to process the fee to renew your domain. If possible include an alternate credit card number for billing, and be sure the alternate payment method is kept up-to-date, too.
Be sure the email address associated with your domain names is correct, and monitored on a daily basis. If you had someone on your staff set your domain, and they leave the company, change email addresses or don’t check all of their email, your company may never see the domain name renewal notifications. The same is true if an outsourced web developer set up your domain using their email address, or worse, set themselves up as owner of the domain name, too.
Tip: Never let a web developer set up a domain name with themselves as owner or with their own email address as the only email address to get domain notifications. Your company should be the entity with control of your domain name and its renewal.”
—Janet Attard is a small business expert and the founder and CEO of BusinessKnowHow.com. The site provides information for home offices, small businesses, and the self employed who are looking for ideas for practical suggestions to start, run, or manage their business.