About once every 2-3 years, a client calls me about losing access to a domain name. This generally happens because the domain name wasn’t renewed, and their site goes down. They can’t log in because they don’t own the domain, don’t know who does, and/or don’t have access to the email address that does own the domain.
Do you know who owns your domain name(s)?
If you own your domains, does the domain registrar have your current contact information and is auto-renew turned on? If you can’t confidently say you own the domain name (using an email you control), you should check as soon as possible.
Losing access to a domain name is catastrophic. Your website and email can stop working entirely. You also run the risk of someone else purchasing the domain name when it comes available. Domain registrars are not forgiving when this happens. Their number one goal is not to let a domain get hijacked, so they make it almost impossible to prove you own the domain.
What can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen?
First, log in now and make sure your domain name(s) are owned by the appropriate person with a relevant email. If it isn’t, update the contact information. Please note, domain registrars only care about the owner/administrator. You might see contact forms for technical support, billing, etc. They don’t use those for verification.
Second, don’t let marketing interns register a domain name with their email. Once they are gone, so is your access.
Third, share login information with others so someone else can log into the account if something happens to you.
There is debate about using domain-related email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or personal email addresses like someone@Gmail.com. If you use email@example.com and the domain name expires and stops working, so does the email. If you use firstname.lastname@example.org and get hit by a bus, chances are you didn’t share access to your personal account with someone else.
Finally, there can be issues with using 2-factor authentication (2FA). If the account uses phone number 2FA, but the phone number on file no longer works, you could lose access. Something to keep in mind.
There are a number of things you should do.
- Turn on auto-renew and make sure a current credit card is on file.
- Use an email address you don’t mind sharing access with others, maybe email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Review your domain settings once a quarter and make sure at least two people can make updates and payments.
- Explore expanded protections with your domain registrar company. Many provide additional services to protect your domain ownership.
It is easier to prove you own your car versus a domain name, so please do everything you can to protect it and your business.