An expired credit card is cause for websites going down at alarming rates

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All too often I get a frantic phone call from a business owner who said their website has been down for a couple of days.  The first place I look is the registrar, because all too often the cause is an expired credit card and the domain name expired.

The major domain registration companies use a very SPAMMY technique to encourage customers to buy more.  In the process they set off junk mail filters and desensitize customers to important messages.  More often than not, the dozen or so alerts to the expiration date are sitting in a junk mail filter or ignored completely.

Here is the general rules for domain registration.  Most registrars will give you a 60 days grace period, meaning if your domain registration lapses, they will not sell it to someone new for 60 days.  You can still renew the domain (you might be charged an extra fee) and get your website back.  Some companies (a very small minority) release your domain in less than 7 days.  These companies are usually small registrars who only host a few hundred sites, classified as a boutique ISP.  You should always register your domain someplace big (GoDaddy, Registrar, Google) and host with a different company.

Since eMail can not be trusted to notify of this very important date, I suggest using your accounting system to setup a reoccurring billing for 30 days prior to your actual renewal date.  Cell phone calendars can not be trusted because we sometimes upgrade our phones a couple time before we renew our domain name.  Your account system is the only constant.

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