As we've just gone through the process of expiring and renewing some of our domain names, here's a quick guide to the domain renewal process that we've gone through to both expire and renew our existing domain names.
Why do I have to renew my domain name?
Simply put, you don't actually own a domain name, you only ever lease or rent it. For a ".co.uk" domain name, the lease is just two years but some other domain names (such as a ".com" or a ".net") can be leased for up to ten years. Personally, I think it's better to use the smaller amount as it means if you no longer want the domain name then you are not paying for it for x number of years after you have actually finished with it. It also gives the opportunity for someone else to use the domain name if they have a new purpose for it.
Usually what will happen is that once you start approaching the date that the domain name renewal is due, your domain registrar (we use 123-reg.co.uk) will contact you to notify you that your domain name will be expiring soon and that you should renew it as soon as possible if you want to keep it. I think I received renewal emails with 45, 30, 15 and 7 days to go until that notice was due but this may vary depending on your registrar.
What happens when I reach the renewal date?
Well, you won't actually lose your domain name, however within 30 days of this expiry date your website will actually stop responding to that particular name so anyone visiting your URL won't actually see your website. Your domain name will then go into a state known as "domain suspension" which will last for another 60 days. During this time, your domain name still won't respond to any requests but you are still recognised as the "owner" so you can still renew it at any time and it won't be released back to the public.
How do I renew or expire my domain?
This really depends on the domain registrar that you use, however both of these tasks should be relatively simple. For the renewal process, our domain registrar simply allows us to go through the initial payment process and we just enter our details to automatically renew for another two years. If we want to expire the domain we have a couple of options:
- Do nothing. The domain name will automatically expire once this 60 days is up and will then get released back to into the public domain for someone else to purchase.
- Use the "Cancel with immediate effect" option which essentially expires the domain name so that it does not have to go through the 60 day period before being released back to the public (note: this option may be called something different depending on your domain registrar).
Personally, I'd just go with the second option if you really don't need it anymore.