Domain Name FAQs
Understanding Domain Names
Domain names are possibly one of the most poorly understood areas in our industry. Yet they are also the leading cause of a website or email problems for many people.
By the time a domain comes up for renewal - sometimes the owner has forgotten what it is for and fails to renew it. And when the domain expires - websites and emails will stop working. But avoiding this issue is simple and just a little bit of knowledge about domains can save you a lot of annoyance and frustration.
So what is a domain name?
A domain name is a system for assigning ‘addresses’ to internet web servers. It is somewhat like a sign-post directing traffic to the individual space where your website is located on a hosting server.
Websites and Emails have files which are held on a hosting server. Your domain name directs traffic to where this is located. In other words, for your emails to function and for your website to be visible online, you need a domain name to be registered.
Who supplies domain names?
Domain names are administered by companies, such as ours, operating a domain name registry. These registries operate underneath parent ‘registrars’ for providing domains to end users. There are specific sets of rules and processes around how domains operate to which we all must abide and cannot be bypassed or amended by us or anyone else.
Who actually OWNS the domain?
Domain names are registered in your name, (the end user) not ours (the registry). We do not register customers domains in our own name as this would mean the domain would belong to us. If that were the case you would not have the ability to move the domain, and if we sold or went out of business you wouldn’t be able to keep your domain. So a transparent and honest website hosting company should always register domain names to the customer and not to themselves.
So for the period which it is registered, you own the domain. If the registration period lapses and the domain expires it will be returned to the public domain for someone else to register (after a stand down period). Because the domain name is registered in your name, it is you who must renew the domain through the registration system we provide.
When does a domain expire?
When a domain is registered, you choose and pay for the registration period. The default is 1 year, but many businesses will register them for 2,3,4 or 5 years at a time. The expiry period is set exactly from the date of first registration onwards. So if you register a domain on the 1st of January this year, it will expire on the 1st of January next year. This is how the domain registry system works, it is not something which is up to us.
What happens if I let the domain expire?
Because domains are vital to your emails and your website, it is very important that it does not expire. Our automated domain system will email you warnings that your domain is due for renewal 30 days prior, and will remind you a further 3 times as this date approaches.
Registering a domain is very easy through our system, and renewing a domain is as simple as paying your invoice. But if no action is taken and the domain expires then your emails and your website will cease to function. Domains are separate from hosting. So although you may be up-to-date with web hosting payments; without a domain name web-traffic simply cannot find your website.
Renewing an expired domain will undergo a propagation period of up to 24 hours before your emails and website will function again. This is the time it takes for it to take effect across the internet. Again, nothing we have control over. After 3 months an expired domain will return to the public pool and someone else can register it.
But.. Aren't you guys looking after all this stuff for me?
As your website hosting company, we provide the systems for managing your domain names. We have invested heavily in making the process very easy for you. However, your domains are not registered to us, they are registered to you. So it is you who receives the reminders to renew your domains rather than us.
Ok, but can't you just renew it and send me the bill?
No because we cannot always assume a customer wishes to renew their domain. Sometimes they do not need them anymore. It costs us money to initiate a renewal and if we renewed all domains and only received payment for the ones the customer wanted to keep - we would go out of business.
Well, how about phoning me to see if I want to renew the domain do I don't forget?
There are thousands of domains in our registery, new ones being registered everyday - and old ones expiring everyday. If we were to try and phone every domain owner prior to renewal we would need 10 times more staff.. a bigger office.. and our domains would cost a fortune to cover these costs. Even then, it would be basically impossible to implement as getting hold of customers on the phone is difficult at the best of times.
Ok I get it. How do I avoid my domain expiring?
The best way to avoid your domain expiring is to take action when you receive our email reminders and pay your domain invoice.
Renewing your domain is very easy through our system and can be done simply by following the email link in the renewal reminder and proceeding with payment of the domain invoice.
IMPORTANT: Domains cannot renew until payment is cleared. If you use a credit card then the renewal will be instant (as long as the domain has not already expired). However if you send a bank transfer this can take a day or two to clear. So if you leave your domain until the last day to renew it we recommend using a credit-card. Otherwise the domain will surely expire as other payment methods are not instant.
• Domains only work for the exact period of time for which they are registered.
• Domains only renew upon payment cleared. Credit-card payments are instant. Bank-transfers are not.
• Should a domain expire, then anything relying on the domain ceases to function (i.e. your website and emails).
• Once an expired domain is renewed (or 1st registered) it takes a period of time (up to 24hrs) for it to take effect across the internet.
• You are responsible for your domain and it is up to you to decide if you wish to renew.
• Best practice is to take action when you receive a domain expiry email warning. If you want to keep your domain simply pay the domain invoice with ample time before expiry.