Reclaiming Lost Domain Names
When you let your domain name registration lapse, it’s not a pretty sight, regardless whether your site is for your business or a personal site. It’s upsetting to be kicked out of your home on the net, which is what happens when your domain registration runs out.
For business oriented websites, domain names really are everything. In many ways, your domain name IS your company. Lost domain names mean lost business. Even if you can get your domain back you’ll have missed out on potential customers.
No business can afford to have their domain name expire. When a domain name registration runs out and automatic renewal hasn’t been set up, the domain registrar or web hosting company who sold the domain name will soon offer it for sale again.
However, there is some hope, at least if you act quickly. The rules vary between different domain registrars and web hosting services, but many of these companies will place domain names on hold for a short period after the registration has lapsed. The registrant will then have a little time to reclaim their lost domain names.
The next step in the process is that the web hosting company or domain registrar will usually place these domain names on hold for a week. Again, this may vary from one company to another, but generally these domains will stay unavailable to purchase (to anyone, including you). Neither you nor anyone else will be able to re-register or transfer this domain until this week has passed.
Some domain name registrars will allow you to place a backorder for domain names which are suspended this way. It’s not free (and depending on the domain, might not be cheap either), but backordering any domain names you’ve allowed the registration to lapse on may be able to help you get them back.
The problem here is that other people can also backorder these domain names during this period. If someone’s beaten you to the punch, then it’s not too likely you’ll get your domain name back.
However, not every domain name will be backordered and it is often possible to reregister domain names you have lost. The more valuable the domain name, the more likely it is that someone will try to get it for themselves if your registration expires.
What makes a domain name valuable?
There are a couple of things which make some domain names more desirable than others. In general, short domain names are considered to be the best – especially one word domain ending in .com. Domains containing popular keywords are also valuable; and well known domains will almost certainly be backordered.
If you’ve managed to build a large audience for your site and made a name for yourself online, you should make sure that your registration is not allowed to lapse. Thankfully, this really isn’t that hard to do. Most domain registrars and web hosting companies who offer domain registration will allow you to renew your domain automatically by credit card – just make sure that your card doesn’t expire before your domain names do.
Another important thing to help you keep your domain names is to make sure that you either keep the email address you used to register the domain name or set up mail forwarding to your new address. Your web hosting provider or domain seller will typically send you a few notifications by email when your domain is due to expire soon; these are notifications you don’t want to miss.
If you do lose your domain name and it is registered to someone else, you have two options. You can try to contact the new owner (which may or may not be possible) and offer to buy the domain from them; but they won’t usually let your domain go for cheap, if at all.
Failing that, the best thing to do is to find another good domain name and resolve to do better next time. Register your domain name for several years rather than just one. Many registrars will permit domain names to be registered for as long as ten years, but register as far into the future as you can, set up automatic renewal and keep an eye out for expiry notices from your web hosting service or domain registrar so that you won’t lose your domain in the first place.