Best Practices

The Best Practices of Domain Ownership

27. 08. 2012

As a domain reseller, our objective is to facilitate the process of domain ownership for our clients. We pride ourselves on taking the guesswork out of owning a domain. Our clients should feel like they only need to have the idea for the domain name and leave the rest up to us. We hold ourselves responsible for ensuring proper domain ownership, managing the name servers, creating DNS records, ensuring the domain won't expire, and any hosting services you require. Still, the world of domain names remains a mystery to many people. Having recently been someone who was mystified by domains before I began working with 9th sphere, I have created a guide for domain owners.

1. Give Yourself Full Ownership

After you know the domain you're going to be registering and have selected a registrar, you will begin the process of officially becoming a domain owner. This usually involves filling out an online form with your contact information. One key aspect of your domain registration is the Registrant / administrative Contact. Some registrars have forms that auto-fill their own information into these fields, but this is not a good idea. The registrant or administrative contact has actual ownership of the domain. If your service provider holds ownership of your domain, it seriously limits your options; such as changing contact and ownership information, renewals and moving to other service providers in the future. Bottom line: if you are purchasing the domain for yourself or your business, no one but you should be listed as the registrant or administrative contact for the domain!  If you are not sure if you are the current owner of your domain name, you can use a WHOIS lookup to check.

2. List your Service Provider as the Technical Contact

Unlike the registrant or administrative contacts, the technical contact holds no ownership of the domain. The technical contact for your domain is the person or company who is going to be making all of the changes to your domain that is associated with name servers and DNS. These types of changes are very sensitive and finicky and can cause your domain to go down or make emails ineffective if even a single character is off. If your domain's technical contact is listed as your registrar, you're ensuring that a technical person will be the one handling those sensitive records. The technical contact is also copied on all emails associated with expiration and renewal. In our case, we call our clients five days before the domain expires. If someone else is listed as the technical contact, and the contact information isn’t up to date, you risk missing those important emails.

3. Keep it Locked

Unless you are looking to have DNS changes done to your domain or are preparing to transfer the domain to another service provider, your domain should be "Locked". This ensures that no changes can be easily made to the domain. It protects it from unauthorized changes or requests for transfers. There are many internet scams from companies that send letters to domain owners telling them that their domains are expiring and they need to be renewed. Clicking on links in emails like these can initiate a transfer of the domain, if it is unlocked. The best practice is to have and leave your domain locked unless you are making changes; and even then, the changes should be made and the domain promptly re-locked.

4. Know the Expiration Date

The best way to avoid internet domain scams like the one above is to be knowledgeable about your domain. Knowing when your domain expires is extremely important. Even if you don't know the exact date but know even the month and year, you can save yourself a lot of headaches. An expired domain can cause websites to go down and emails to stop functioning, which can seriously disrupt your business. We recommend that domains that host your business' website or your emails always have expiry dates that are at least two years away. This will ensure that you won't be caught off guard by having your domain suddenly expire.  You can easily check to see when your domain expires through a WHOIS lookup as well.  If you need to renew your domain you can do so through your existing domain registrar or transfer it to any other.

5. Update Your Contact Information

Making sure that your name, address, phone number, and most importantly, email address are all up to date on your domain records is crucial for ensuring that you won't miss receiving important information about your domain. As a domain owner, you will receive an email notification at 60, 30, 10, and 5 days before the domain expires, as well as a telephone call from us to let you know that your domain is coming up for expiration. If you have changed your email address or telephone number, it is important to let your registrar know. If they are unable to contact you, you will risk down time with your domain.

6. Check the Status

The best way to stay informed with what's going on with your domain knows how to do a simple check on it. WHOIS domain lookups can be done for free and only take a few seconds. Websites such as provide a lot of information regarding your domain, including the owner's contact information, expiration date, domain status, and DNS records, among other things. Owners of private domains, such as people who have bought their own personal names as a domain name, can choose to enable WHOIS privacy, which will hide their contact information. This is a viable option for those who use their domains for personal reasons, but it's not necessarily a good idea to hide the contact information for a domain that is used for business.

The list above provides the most important suggestions I would provide to domain owners. From a practical standpoint, ensuring that you have full ownership of the domain, have up to date contact information, and are aware of the domain's expiration are the three most crucial points on that list. Business owners have more than just a passing interest in this list. As a website services provider, we are all too aware of how detrimental any down time to a website or email services can be to any business. Preparing yourself and remaining knowledgeable about your domain and its properties will ensure that you are a responsible domain owner and will have fewer headaches with the most basic element of your online presence.

Please share any other ideas on best practices or tips for domain owners in the comments.

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