GEEKNOTE: Domain names are your identity on the Internet. They are “nice to have” for individuals, but critical for businesses. You simply won’t be taken seriously as a business if you are using a free email account with a “generic” domain name like gmail.com, etc.
While, your company should have its own domain name, there seem to be an almost infinite number of ways of screwing up the process.
One company I know lost their domain name after they ignored the renewal notices and a foreign company swooped in and grabbed the domain right after it expired. Mercifully, this is more difficult to do now as there is a “redemption period” after the domain expires before someone else can grab it.
The reason that they ignored the valid notice is because there are a number of companies that send out solicitations that look like domain renewal notices and they didn’t want to fall into the trap of paying the wrong company. You have to know how to tell the difference between a valid renewal notice and a scam.
Another company had issues with their website and the person handling their web work, so they went out and bought a new domain. This failed on three levels: They had to trash everything they had with the old domain name, they picked a new domain with a “.CO” (Columbia, South America) extension, and another business in town had the exact same domain name, except with a “.COM” extension, potentially creating confusion between the two.
Yet another company chose a domain registrar in Vancouver, who essentially held their domain for ransom when they tried to transfer the domain to a US host. We’ve also seen folks use a registrar in Australia, with a 12 hour time zone difference to deal with when you want to talk to someone. Having your domain registered through a foreign country is never a good idea.
Most recently, we’ve been trying to assist a company that we had helped register a domain name a dozen years ago. They got their own internal IT person and took over management of their domain five or six years ago. The IT person transferred the company’s domain into a PERSONAL account at Network Solutions and then, when the IT person changed, the new one changed the name of the account holder at Network Solutions, but not the contact email address. The second IT person left the company early this year and moved to parts unknown out west. I’m still listed as the technical contact for the domain, so I got the call when things broke. The email address on file with Network Solutions for the account holder is no longer valid. Because the domain is now registered as a “personal” domain, the company is faced with three options:
- Get the missing account holder to tell Network Solutions that it is okay to transfer the domain or produce a death certificate for the account holder.
- Get a court order directing Network Solutions to release the domain to them.
- Buy a new domain and just abandon the domain they have had for a dozen years.
Mind you, the domain name is composed of the initials of the company and, if you go to the website, it clearly belongs to the company. As much as the company staff would now like to assist in qualifying the MIA account holder for a death certificate, I suspect cooler heads will prevail and they will seek a court order.
There are a number of reasons I avoid using Network Solutions, and this could well be “Exhibit A”. It is simply impossible to find anyone there with a lick of common sense. Network Solution’s status as the largest registrar in the world simply makes them more bureaucratic.
Business domains should be registered in the name of the business. If the administrative contact dies or otherwise becomes unavailable, it is a fairly simple process to fax the registrar a change of contact form and get a new person assigned as the contact. The registrar we use doesn’t distinguish between types of owners. There are registration fields sufficient to cover both individuals registering a domain name as well as companies doing so.
If you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of domain registrations, pick someone who is and let them handle the domain registration for you. This can be your IT company, your web hosting company, or whoever handles your email. One benefit of having an outsider handle this for you is that, if something bad happens to your domain (eg. Your Exchange Server dies and you need to make changes to where your email is going), the person charged with fixing the problem has an email address in a different domain that is unaffected by the outage.
It is also important to have multiple people able to deal with a crisis situation. We handle something on the order of 150 domains for our customers and they can rest easy knowing that if I get hit by a truck, my partner can make one phone call direct to the president of the organization we do our registrations through and get things updated.
We also bill our customers for the renewals so they know that they can safely ignore any domain registration “bills” that come from anyone else.
It simply doesn’t have to be as complicated as Network Solutions and some of the other registrars want to make it.
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Contact us if you would like a review of your current domain registration or assistance registering a domain name for your company.