How to make sure your domain name doesn’t expire or get lost somehow
Recently I was looking for the store hours for a local cafe in the area. I did a search and found that their website was no longer online. It didn't even point to a GoDaddy parking page. Just, gone. "Service Not Found."
Being the web professional I am, I realized that this meant the company that had been hosting the website had either deleted the website from their system (otherwise there would have been at least a "Site is offline" kind of message) or the company themselves had gone out of business.
So, I did what's called a whois search on the domain name for the cafe. I saw that the website was being hosted by a non-local company, and the admin of the domain name was [name redacted] at [company name redacted]. Having this information, I went to the company website listed for this admin person hoping to let them know that the website they were supposedly maintaining was offline, and found that their website was gone, too.
This meant that the cafe's website admin had not only let the cafe's website go away, but the website admin had also let their own website go away, and their domain name had expired.
I did what every online professional with a heart of gold would have done. I bought the website admin's domain name, and pointed it to our own website: MontagueWebWorks.com. I also set up an email domain for their lost (and now found) domain so any emails being sent to the admin would now come to me, including any emails from GoDaddy, who thought [redacted] was still the admin for the cafe.
I sent an email to the cafe owner letting them know that their website was down, and that the previous web admin's domain had expired. And then I waited.
The cafe owner got back to me, saying the old website admin had moved on and was unable to get their website back up. I told him I could get their website back up and online, in a fashion (obviously not having all the old files on hand) within an hour.
This is what I did...
The owner was impressed, and asked if we could do their website for them, just a simple one-page thing. I said sure, and later in the day the website was done and online.
This story has a happy ending, because we were able to act fast, before too much time had elapsed. If they'd gone another month or two without noticing that everything was offline or expired, someone else, perhaps a person in China or Russia, would have snapped up the domain names and used them for spam. At that point you just have to buy another domain name, and chalk it up to experience.
DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU.
If you are hosted by Montague WebWorks, yet you manage your domain name on your own, you absolutely must keep track of your domain name, making sure the email address they have on file for you is valid, and the credit card they have on file has not expired.
We suggest that you let us manage your domain name. If you ever want to move to another hosting company, we will happily relinquish your domain at no charge. It's yours. You're just letting us manage it for you, as we are also managing your website for you. Plus you'll save some money. We only charge $10 a year for domains. Cheaper than you'll find anywhere else.