Every once in a while, we get a panicked call from a small business owner - "Help, my email and website stopped working - we can't get any e-mail and I'm missing important orders!". After the usual first steps in trouble shooting - such as can they get out to the Internet at all - one of the first things we check is the domain name registration status. Often what we'll catch is an expired domain name.
If you don't know the status of your domain name, go to http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp and do a free search. You'll find a few important pieces of information: The Registrant, Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, and Expiration Date. Unless you have taken extra steps to make this information private, this is all in the public record.
A few important points:
- The Registrant should be the business name (or owner) and NOT an employee or outside webmaster or consultant. The Registrant "owns" the name.
- The administrative contact should be a principal in the business and we recommend using a "real" email account, not a free one such as HotMail (people often set up temporary accounts and forget about them, and risk missing renewal notices).
- The technical contact can be an outside consultant.
- Make sure all contact information is current or you could miss a renewal notice.
- Track your renewal date just in case you miss a renewal notice.
The legal right to your domain name is an important business asset and should be protected with the same level of vigilance as any other valuable asset.