It begins as an idea — a company name, a business venture, a personal project. You research available domain name options, choose the one you want, and finally register it. Or perhaps the perfect domain was in use before, and you register it after it completes the domain deletion cycle.
After going through the selection and registration process and then using the domain to brand your business, do you want to risk losing your domain?
Of course not.
THE LIFE CYCLE OF A DOMAIN NAME
To avoid losing a domain after you’ve registered it, let’s look at the stages that each domain goes through.
When you look up the domain in Whois records, it’s available for registration. It may never have been registered before, or it may have already been through one or more domain name cycles.
Someone has registered the domain for the current time period. Domains can be registered for a minimum of one year and up to 10 years at a time. Some country-specific domain name extensions (e.g., domains ending in .uk and .au) can be registered for only shorter time periods. When a domain is nearing the end of its active period, an email notification is sent to the address in the record for the domain name registrant.
If the registrant renews the domain before it expires, it stays active. Otherwise, the cycle moves to the next stage.
It’s expired (on hold)
A registrant had the domain name registered but didn’t renew it before the expiry date. The domain name registrar may hold the domain to allow the registrant to re-register it, which would return the domain to active status. This time period is typically 45 days, but it may be longer, shorter, or non-existent, depending on the registrar.
The website and email for the domain might still work for a few days after a domain enters this stage. The domain cannot be transferred to another registrar at this stage, however.
It’s in the Redemption Grace Period (RGP)
The domain is held in a 30-day redemption period, during which the registrant can still re-register it, perhaps with an additional service fee at this point. The website and email for the domain no longer work. However, the domain is not yet available to the public.
It’s pending delete
This registry hold period, the last stage of the cycle, is five days.
Anyone can now register the domain name. The cycle can begin again.
THE BENEFITS OF LONG-TERM DOMAIN REGISTRATION
It’s more convenient
When your domain is registered for several years, you only have to renew it once every several years. You also avoid the inconvenience of possibly having your site and email go down if you miss an annual renewal deadline.
It’s less expensive
Some domain name registrars offer a discount when you register a domain for multiple years. In addition, you reduce the number of occasions when you might have to pay a service fee for renewing your domain late.
It’s more secure
The chances of your losing your domain because you were away, busy, or didn’t receive the email notification about its due date are reduced.
It’s more legitimate
It’s believed that Google weighs the length of the domain registration when ranking a website. A site with a domain that’s registered for several years would benefit from the long registration time over a site with a domain that expires in less than a year.
Savvy customers will also notice how long a domain is registered for. A company with a domain that’s registered for a few years is more likely to be around in a few years than one with a domain that’s registered for only one year.
THE MANAGEMENT OF A DOMAIN NAME
To keep your treasured domain name from going through the above cycle after you register it, take these preventive steps:
? Register it for several years at a time.
? Register it with an email address that doesn’t go with the domain name — you need to be able to send and receive email about the domain if you accidentally let it expire.
? Keep the address in your Whois records current so that you can receive renewal notices from your domain name registrar.
? Set up a reminder in your calendar to renew your domain at least two months before its expiry date.
These security steps will help protect your domain name:
? Use a complex password with a combination of letters and numbers for your domain name account.
? Turn on the “lock” feature if the extension allows locking. When a domain name is locked, no changes can be made to it. Some domains (depending on the registrar or extension) can’t be locked, but other security measures are usually in place to prevent unauthorized transfers or other changes.