Who Owns Your Domain?

Posted on Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Your domain name is your online identity, so you should be certain you have ownership. Do you?

When you register a domain name through a registrar such as Network Solutions, GoDaddy, or Register.com, you go through a process of registration in which you are the owner of the domain name.

This means you have control, you can move it, renew it, and there is no dispute that it is yours.

Got that sinking feeling already? Skip to the “How-To” section of this article now.

When Things Get Sticky…

But, when you register your domain through a hosting service (there are hundreds – take your pick), that’s when things get sticky. Let’s say you choose to host with Easy CGI (we choose them as our example because we’ve had an actual case we can share with you). If you let Easy CGI register your domain for you when sign up, they are the registered owner of the domain. Although it is on your behalf, the problem is, it’s on your behalf – it’s not you.

What this means is that you don’t have control. Control over moving the domain, renewing the domain, and all of the other administrative tasks that you might need to do. Instead, Easy CGI does, and you are at their mercy. Ideally, they will be responsive to your requests, and there should be no problem. But….

When Fingers Get Sticky…

If, for example, you let your account with Easy CGI expire, guess what happens? Yep – that domain name – your ever-impotant identity that costs you $10 per month when you register it on your own – becomes theirs. And, when it becomes theirs, when you come back asking for it, their fingers tend to get sticky.

Now, in case you think we’re picking on them, we’re not. The fact is that in one case, when a client’s account expired, Easy CGI told us that the domain reverted to their wholesaler, Tucows. After many failed attempts at contacting Tucows, we finally received an answer. And, that answer was that the client could “recover” (whatever that means!) the domain name for $80. Feels a bit like extortion…

What You Need to Do

Here’s a short list of recommendations on what the best course of action is with your domain name:

  • Your best choice is to register the domain yourself through a reliable registrar such as Network Solutions, GoDaddy, or Register.com
  • Second best is to use a company, such as Alpha Channel Group, who will register your domain under your name, not just on your behalf.
  • At no time should you register your domain through your ISP, your hosting service, or other third-party company.

Help! My Domain Has Already Been Registered For Me!

All is not lost. Starting today (not tomorrow), your mission should be to transfer the domain to your name.

The reliable registrars (like Network Solutions,
GoDaddy, or Register.com) all offer an online Domain Name Transfer service, and some such as Godaddy actually offer help from live people to help with the process. And within a week or two, the domain is transferred – in your name – to the registrar that you chose.

Would you like help? Contact us and we’ll gladly do what we can to get your domain name back for you!

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