What is a domain name?
When you purchase web site hosting, you get server space located at an IP address. For instance, this web site is located at http://188.8.131.52/. However, you probably got here using www.blueridges.com.
A domain name is a way to match an IP address with an easy-to-remember address.
Think about where you work. There is a street address for your building, but there are also other ways to mark your location. The street address is only meaningful if someone has a map or already knows your street. You could also give your location using latitude and longitude (frequently used in navigation). Although more precise, it is less useful for most people.
In this same way, a domain name is the convenient way to locate your web site, instead of the precise way.
Do I own my domain name?
Domain names are leased on an annual basis. Your lease needs to be renewed on your anniversary date. Some registrars permit you to renew for multiple years at a slight savings.
The lease on your domain name allows you to keep it for as long as you want. You can't be "evicted" from your web site unless you forget to renew. You always have the first option to renew your lease, so no one can "out-bid" you.
However, if you ever forget to renew before your lease expiration date, your domain name becomes available to the highest bidder.
How do I manage my domain name?
A decent domain registrar will provide a web page to manage your domain name. You should have the ability to change your name servers and transfer your domain name.
Some discount web hosting providers include the domain name with your hosting package. You should avoid this, unless you have the ability to transfer your domain name without your hosting providers assistance. The reason is that to move your hosting to a new provider, you must have access to your domain name. Hosting providers know this and often don't provide convenient access just to make transferring more difficult.
What happens if my domain name expires?
If you want to keep your domain name, you should never let it expire. On the day it expires:
- your email will no longer work
- your web site will no longer work
- your domain name is put up for auction (some registrars allow you a 30-day grace period before auctioning your name)
Blue Ridge Solutions sells domain names as a convenience to our clients. It is part of our complete web site management philosophy. We always give you access to your domain name, so you can transfer it without our "permission." We automatically renew your domain name until you tell us differently.
Please contact us with feedback about this article.