Those are about the last words in the world you want to hear yourself uttering, but if you do, then you’ll need to know how to handle it – quickly! (And don’t roll your eyes – it’s happened to many, accidentally.)
How do you know if your domain has expired? Your website will not be accessible on the web, and any other functions you have associated with that domain (like email service, subdomains, etc.) will likely stop functioning.
What can you do if your domain expires? In the event you do let your domain expire, keep your cool. The good news is that when your domain expires, it is almost always recoverable during a grace period and can’t be lost immediately. The grace period lengths vary among providers, and typically range from one week to 45 days, with 25-30 days being quite common. Most hosting companies will allow you to renew the domain name during the grace period for a fee that sometimes includes penalties. The fees could be a bummer, but at least you won’t lose your domain.
If you fail to renew your domain during your hosting company’s grace period, your domain will be put up for public auction, and while you can still renew it during this period, it is quite likely that if you are a successful business, someone (using a bot!) will be waiting in the wings to purchase it first – with the hope of selling it back to you at a very dear price. So you obviously do NOT want to let that happen.
How can you ensure that your domain does not expire? First of all, most hosting companies offer auto-renew options, which means that your credit card will automatically be charged when it’s time to renew so your domain stays active. Of course, Rule #1 in an auto-renew situation is to always keep your credit card information up to date, but typically if a card declines, the hosting company will notify you via email – which leads to Rule #2 – always keep your contact info up to date with your hosting company. In addition to out-of-date credit card info notifications, it is likely that they will send you an email or three letting you know your expiration date is approaching. Which leads to Rule #3 – always read your emails from your hosting company!
Please take a few moments to check your account data and sign up for auto-renew with your hosting company. Also, just to sleep really well at night, you can check the support section of your hosting company’s knowledgebase to determine exactly what the specifics are at that company for dealing with inadvertent expiration.