Many businesses buy domains from various sources. Some buy them from their Web Designers as a package with their designing fees, some people buy from their hosting vendors, some people buy it themselves online. There are also those who buy it from their hardware vendor or maybe even a yellow pages directory service. But what happens if any of these resellers or companies shut down? Who will process your domain renewal? Will you lose your domain if the company shuts down or becomes unresponsive? This article attempts to explain how you can avoid losing your domain when your vendor or domain reseller shuts down.
Keep your WHOIS information up to date
The most important factor in determining a domain’s ownership is the WHOIS information stored with the Registrar of the Domain Name. We often buy domain’s from middle-men or resellers of the Domain Registrar. While resellers can give you an exceptionally good price, they may not give you control of your domain name. This means that you are at their mercy for everything to do with your domain. One thing you must ensure, whomever you are buying the name from, that the domain must be registered on the name of the true owner or the person authorized by the true owner. This authorized person could include an officer or agent of a company, the CEO or even an IT manager. But this should definitely not be the web designer, a middle-man or even an employee of the vendor. This will ensure that when you want to control your domain name or transfer it out at anytime, if you send a mail from your registered email address and have control of it, the registrar will help you take control of your domain name. If you do not have control of your domain name and your vendor shuts down, you will have quite a tough time in proving that you are the owner of the domain name.
Keep the domain control in your hands
As soon as your domain is registered, or shortly after that, you should insist on having the Domain Name Control Panel details. This should include the login name, password and URL from where you can login. As soon as you receive these details, you should try them out and check to see if your domain can be managed with those login details. You should also change your password for that control panel and only share the details with those you trust. The domain control panel access need not be given to the web designer or hosting company, unless you would like them to manage the account. If they would like to make changes to the DNS entries or pointers of your domain name, they can always guide you on how to do it. You can also take the help of your domain name vendor to guide you on how to make the changes.
Domain Registrar to the rescue
If you do end up clueless about your vendor, or if your vendor becomes unresponsive or has shut shop, there is still hope. You can always contact a higher authority i.e. the Domain Registrar. The Domain Registrar is given a license by ICANN (internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to sell domain names. These Registrars in turn appoint resellers or vendors, from whom you may have bought the names in retail. In the rare case of a Registrar going out of business or shutting shop, all her domains are automatically shifted to a new registrar and all the domain owners are informed about it. This means that your domain will always be under a Registrar no matter what. The Registrar is bound to follow some rules and standards and will cooperate with you if you can show that you are the real domain owner. Usually, if you want to make changes to the domain name WHOIS records, but have lost access to the control panel, you can always fax your identity proof to the registrar and get access to the domain control after a few formalities. If the Domain Registrar becomes difficult or unresponsive, you can escalate the matter in the form of a complaint to ICANN. This way, you know for a fact that your domain name will never be lost, if you take timely action.