Guideline to Business Owners

Safeguard Your Business Domain Name

Your Internet domain name is the most important component of your business's online identity. Your domain offers easily remembered access to your company's Web site and, of course, it's at the heart of your company's e-mail addresses.

If you're like most people, you don't think much about your domain name once you've acquired one you like--except when things go wrong. Unfortunately, it's possible to lose your carefully chosen domain name if you don't act to safeguard it.

Choosing a Domain Registrar

Competition has been good for domain registrants. It has helped to reduce the annual cost of domain registration; and it has increased choices for related services such as domain forwarding, which transfers a Web site's visitors to another URL.

It's easy to look at a domain registrar's Web site to determine the cost of registration, which can range up to $35 or so per year for a .com. However, it's far more difficult to assess the quality of the service you'll receive from a registrar before you sign up. You may find out about poor service only after it's too late.

Protect Your Domain Name

Here are some steps you can take to safeguard your domain name, regardless of the registrar that you sign up with.

  1. Keep your domain registration contact details up-to-date, particularly your e-mail address. If your e-mail address is incorrect, you won't receive a renewal notice from your registrar. You'll notice the problem after your domain name expires, when your e-mail address and Web site URL stop working. If you act quickly, it may be possible to retrieve a recently expired domain. However, you'll pay your registrar a hefty penalty--perhaps $160 or so--for your tardiness.
  2. Keep all your domain details, including expiration date and domain management account name and password, in a safe place. Don't rely solely upon your registrar's information, because it may not always be accurate. You'll need to access your domain management account to change the DNS (Domain Name System) address if you want to move to another Web host, or to obtain the authorization code if you want to switch to another domain registrar.
  3. Keep Web site hosting separate from domain name registration. It's convenient to receive one bill for Internet services, but if you rely on one company to both register your domain and provide Web and e-mail hosting, it's more difficult to migrate to another service if things go bad. I recommend that you do not use the same company to host your Web site and register your domain.

Note: Many domain registrars offer a privacy or anonymity service, which can make it more difficult to transfer your domain since your ownership isn't publicly identifiable. You should weigh the value of your privacy against the cost of lack of access to your data.