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Expired domain names = downtime for websites. Downtime = bad.

How does your organization make sure domain names have been renewed? I believe ICANN requires registrars to give a notice at 60 days and 30 days, but these can easily get ignored -- especially with a large amount of domains.

Does your solution work for a large amount of domain names? (> 100) Is it registrar specific?

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12 Answers 12

up vote 7 down vote accepted

When we register a domain, we put a recurring task in our ticketing system with annual recurrence, assigned to the person who handles the renewals, scheduled so it hits a month before the next cycle. No reliance on external tracking or emails; that doesn't seem to work out well.

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+1 for push-based reminders! –  Kara Marfia Jun 5 '09 at 15:19
    
I go the same for personal domains using Google calendar (as well as for SSL certificates). –  Mikeage Jun 8 '09 at 8:57
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Several thoughts ... we have the same dilemma!

1- Make it a regular part of someone's job to check the registrar once a month and renew (or choose not to renew) any domains expiring in the next 60 or 90 days.

2- Keep your own records (we use a list on SharePoint) rather then relying on the registrar.

3- Consolidate onto a single registrar. This will make the review and renewal process easier.

A couple of kludges will reduce (but not eliminate) the incidence of expirations.

a- Reserve key domains for a long time. Network Solutions will let you do it for 100 years!

b- Setup auto-renew for key domains, if it is available on your registrar. Then you just need to check (quarterly?) that the credit card has not expired.

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We currently maintain over 2000 domains, and just use option #1. We tried software in the past and spent more time fiddling with it then track the domains. –  David Jun 5 '09 at 15:34
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At my company we actually have the office manager handle this. I have found they tend to stay at one Job for longer periods than IT people and probably are better at keeping track of these sort of things.

You could also put them into any sort of license management system you are using.

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tomjedrz and chaos note most of the things that I do to ensure domains don't expire, though I also set a meeting reminder in both Outlook and my personal email to remind me to check expirations on a semi-annual basis.

One other thing I do is ignore any notices we get for domains renewals that aren't from the registrar we used -- lots of scams out there that wrap domain transfers into renewal notices (I do glance at all of these notices we receive, it's just 99.9% of them end up in the recycle bin).

If you have a lot of domains to manage, particularly if you're looking to manage many country-specific TLDs, you can outsource to a company like MarkMonitor to take care of everything for you (though this can get costly).

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Through ticket software, Sharepoint, whatever - add a task to the IT group's Outlook, so that employee churn isn't an issue. With a lead time of at least a month (to account for accounts payable lag).

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If the registrar supports it, I just turn on recurring billing.

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After a few catastrophic failures in the registration/renewal process we have finally convinced our userbase that the correct way to get a new domain name is to go through IT. Therefore we have them all managed by one person, who keeps a documented list of the domain name, the department or individual who requested it, date requested, IP it is using, and expriation date.

Monthly we check the list and renew all the ones due in the next month. It works great, and it allows us to check with the people who requested them about if they are still using them or not.

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We manage hundreds of domain names for clients and have a few different processes.

First, we renew for multiple years whenever possible. This reduces the need to renew year after year, and we can usually take advantage of multi-year renewal discounts. For these we then put an entry into the system administration schedule to review the WHOIS information every year, and then an entry to renew again 90 days before it will expire.

Next, we use automatic renewal with the registrar for some names that renew every year. This helps to ensure that they get renewed even if we don't get the notice for whatever reason.

And finally, we have an e-mail address setup specifically to receive domain renewal notifications. This goes to a few different people here at the office. I am responsible for receiving those and processing the ones that need to be handled. If a notice comes in for one that is less than 30 days out, then a couple of other people in the office know to either come bug me about it or check with the client and handle it if I am not available (vacation or whatever).

I wrote up a blog article a while back called The Importance of Domains that outlines some general tips for domain name management. It's aimed at clients, but anyone who owns a domain name may benefit from it.

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Why not just put it into your calendar when you buy a domain? I manage tons of domains for me and other people and companies (100+). If I buy it I put it in my calendar and if its for a client I put it in their company calendar as well.

I also notify them personally if the domain is coming up for renewal.

My registrar does a really good job of notifying me when I should renew domains though, so I almost don't need to do any calendar stuff, I just prefer to.

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We do four things:

  • Register all domains with one registrar (also get SSL certs from them).
  • Pay for multiple years at once.
  • Synchronize renewal dates as much as possible.
  • Log in and check our account with the registrar every couple of months.

And there's one overarching thing we do to keep domain registrations under control: deal with a registrar who charges a bit more but has real, helpful people working for them and able to help us.

We got connected to the Internet back before the boom when the "registrar" for Canada was one guy who worked at the University of British Columbia. When registration became a big business, Webnames.ca was set up at the University and took over as the original registrar for Canada. So we've dealt with them from the beginning and even for a small number of domains were assigned a rep who we could call for any unusual requests or emergencies.

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dnZoom has been created just for that ;-)

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This was something that I struggled with and so I built an iPhone app for it. It's registrar independent and would work for > 100 domains. It's up on the app store if you want to give it a try.

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