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This Can Happen To You: A Cautionary Tale About Your Domain Name

July 3, 2016 / Digital Marketing

A company, let’s call it Acme Products, is cranking along with great service, great products, great customers and a great website. One day the website disappears. Falls off the internet. Like it never existed. You call your web company. They have all the files up and running. Good to go. Except it’s not. You’re nowhere to be found. Now you’re panicked, losing business trying to figure out what happened. Well here’s a couple of ways this could have happened:

Let’s say the President, John Smith founded the company. John started the company and when he did he bought the domain name AcmeProducts.com, using his own personal email address. John died last year. No-one thought to wonder what happened to the domain name because after he died the website continued on just like before. Well, this year with the domain name up for ‘renewal’, the registrar tried to charge the credit card and it failed because the card for John Smith had been cancelled. The email address where the registrar notifies the owner that the card failed had ALSO been cancelled because no-one need monitor a dead person’s email account. And then 30 days later the domain is cancelled and your website goes down.

Now you’re stuck trying to get control of the domain from a deceased person’s account. Having to provide death certificates, dealing with red tape. All the while your website is down.

How could this be prevented? We’ll tell you but first ANOTHER way this could happen.

Say you’re part of a large organization that controls all the domain names of the organization. Say that early on when the organization wasn’t so large or before a merger, one or two of them were registered in someone’s name and email say Suzie.jones@largeorganization.com and now whenever they register a new domain name, it gets registered to domainupdate@largeorganization.com, which is cool. But the early ones are still registered to Suzie.Jones and get sent notification to suzie.jones. Unfortunately Suzie Jones no longer works at Large Organization. Now your website is non-renewed and you’re fighting to get it turned back on through the red tape of your organization.

So how do we prevent this? Here are a couple steps you can take to make sure you’re all good:

  1. Go to whois.com. Plug in your domain name in the upper right, click the WHOIS button and check the renewal date. If it’s a long time off, make a note to check it again in a year. Also, make note of the Registrar, the Registrant/Owner and the Technical Contact. These should all be recognizable to you and correct.
  2. Confirm you have CONTROL over the domain name. Log into the registrar at least once a year to ensure you can see the domain name and it’s set up for auto-renew. If the Owner or Technical Contact were wrong when you did #1, correct them here.
  3. Call us if you have any questions. It’s simple to do steps 1 and 2, but if you don’t you may be scrambling. No-one likes to scramble, especially when your website’s down!
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