Donald Trump nabs Jeb Bush’s website - and the importance of domain renewals

The US presidential primaries have descended into web hosting farce after Donald Trump managed to take the official campaign website of fellow Republican candidate Jeb Bush.

Posted on 18 February 2016 - Domains
Tibus BY Tibus

It seems Bush’s campaign people simply forgot to renew his domain name. Trump’s camp were on the ball and managed to register it for themselves when it expired. As a result, www.jebbush.com now redirects to Trump’s website, which is clearly excruciatingly embarrassing for Bush and his people.

While it makes for a funny sideshow in the Punch and Judy world of politics, in a business context such an error could be catastrophic, perhaps even terminal for the company involved. Imagine if your fiercest competitor suddenly had control over your website - it doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

As with car insurance, tax returns, TV licences and all sorts of other things in our lives, sometimes a renewal can slip with through the net, and there might be a financial penalty if it does. With a domain name, the penalty might turn out to be permanent.

Nobody is immune. Google famously forgot to renew their eponymous .com domain last year. They were fortunate that it was snapped up by an ex-staffer, Sanmay Ved, who sold it back to them for just the $12 he had paid to register it. He tells his story of how that happened in this LinkedIn article.

Back to your business, there are no guarantee that it will be such a benevolent figure who buys your domain. Nor will you have quite the same persuasive powers as Google in order to get your domain back.

And if you lose your domain, it won’t just be your website that goes. You might also lose your email, FTP accounts, customer details, order systems and any other data that is tied to the domain.

Generally in the world of domain names, and especially .com domains, it is a free for all. If you snooze, you lose is very much applicable because, as Jeb Bush is discovering, the person who nabs your domain is almost certainly under no obligation to give it back to you.

Make sure your business isn’t Trumped in the domain stakes

Here are our tips for ensuring you don't lose your domain.

1. Make sure your domain name registrar knows what they are doing.

If your domain name is managed by your web development agency, which is quite common practice, get them to give you an outline of their polices and processes in relation to domain name management and renewal. If it’s not something they specialise in, seek a specialist domain name company. We manage domain names for thousands of businesses of all sizes.

2. Make sure your domain is renewed by default.

This is called positive renewal and we turn this on for every single domain name client we have. Essentially, we automatically renew every domain unless advised by the client 30 days before expiry that they don’t want us to renew it. 

Sometimes that means that clients grumble about us charging for a domain they had planned to cancel at some stage, but that’s better than losing one that is essential for their business. Turn positive renewals on.

3. Sign-up with a generic email address.

If your business manages its own domain name, make sure the email address attached to the account is a generic inbox that is reviewed by a few folks and not an individual staff email address, which could get overlooked or lost, especially if that individual moves on from your business. 

Log into the control panel, create a generic address like domainname@[yourdomain].com and make sure that that email address forwards emails to a number of people in your business. 

4. Choose a reputable domain name registrar.

In Ireland, the IEDR have a list and and in the UK, Nominet also have a list of approved registrars. In assessing which registrar company is right for you, look for a local phone number and a physical office address in your own country. Don’t be tempted by cheap-as-chips providers in overseas territories for domain names if you’re not an expert. 

Worried about losing your domain?

If you think you're at risk of losing your domain or you have any questions about the tips above, feel free to contact us.

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