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Do You Ever Really Own A Domain?


Do We Really Own Them?Someone recently asked me if they could take their domain registration over from their web host. Their web host, as with many web hosts, provides free domain registration (something that can save a webmaster $15-$20 a year). They had a concern that their web host was somehow the true owner of the domain, and that they were, well, just squatting there.

The truth is, we’re all just renting our domains. Maybe this sounds philosophical, but it has implications for everyone who has website, even companies like Microsoft. In 2003 the company forgot to renew the UK version of its hotmail domain. An embarrassment to be sure, and a potentially costly one too. Once a domain’s registration lapses, anyone can buy it. And more often than not, the domain is put up for sale. In Microsoft’s case the domain was purchased by someone with the good intention of giving the domain back.

Getting back to the original subject, web hosts register domains on your behalf. So generally (there can be exceptions) there’s very little difference between registering your domain yourself, and having your web host do it for you. The only difference would be the cost, as going the web host registration route usually saves about $20 a year. In fact, even when you register through or tucows, you’re still using a third-party to register the domain. If you do chose to do your own domain registration, give serious consideration to paying extra for domain privacy. This will shield your personal information from prying eyes who want to know who registered the domain….and where they live.

The most important thing is to understand how your web host handles renewal. Is it automatic? Is it free for life, or only for a single year? Reading some good web hosting reviews can answer many of these questions, but it never hurts to read the fine print yourself.


CEO and Founder of Slashsquare, Indian Blog Network and Web Consulting Media. HBB is a part of Slashsquare Network. I'm a Tech Blogger, Striving Entrepreneur, Atheist, and Proud Indian. Catch me on Facebook and Twitter.

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    • McBrady

      some webhosting companies give free domains upon signing up with one of their plans “‘*

    • Directory Sieve

      i don’t understand why people go for free domain providers, it just takes $10 a year, is it really too much? when you make a website, it will be the domain that is the main thing, why not keep it at hostgator/godaddy/namecheap, yes it will take a bit of money, but still it will be safe.

    • Domain name registration

      This is a serious issue that must not be toy with, if any web hosting offer you a free domain name, you have to clarify from them categorically if the domain name is just free for a year or for life. If it is free for a year that is fine lots of hosting company used to do such offer.

      But if it is for life, you have to run, unless the domain name is registered in your name and you have all the access to manage the domain name by yourself. But in such a situation you can not transfer the domain name free, they will in post a heavy transfer fee on such domain name in other to tie you for life.

    • TechChunks

      It would be great if the domain names came with a “for-life” ownership when we register it. Would surely save a lot of trouble renewing it again and again and again, every year 🙁

    • Yasinta

      Hi Pradeep… Nice post!

      I don’t renew my domains automatically because I only own a few. It is unlikely that I will forget renewing them 😉 .. But I have one 2 commercial sites that I registered for over 3 years. This is mainly purposed for better reputation though.
      And paying for extra privacy can create bad impression if your website is for online business. Be open about business information is one way to gain buyer’s trust. Well, that is what I apply for my sites 🙂

      • Dennis Edell | Direct Sales Marketing

        It's not always about just forgetting.

        For instance, 2yrs in a row I ended up in the hospital around renewal time; almost lost them both times.

        • Yasinta

          Hey, I was actually thinking about this too :D. What if one gets sick and can not manage the renewal? There are so many expired domains, previously seem to be good sites. I sometimes wonder where the owners go. Are they healthy or not, etc..

    • Udegbunam Chukwudi

      Be careful with free domains for life. They actually mean “free domain as long as you’re hosting with us”.

    • Sebin

      Could we renew our domain before it reaches the expiration period ?

    • Net Age | Web Design

      Oh yes! If you do not pay your rent you'll get evicted. I learnt this lesson the hard way when I lost my personal .com domain because of an administrative oversight. To add insult to injury it was bought up by a crowd trying to sell it back to me… just sucks.

    • Tech Sputter

      however some web hosts provide you really cheap or free domain names, but the transferring option is a bit tedious i guess, so it an issue while selling your website……….

    • Dennis Edell | Direct Sales Marketing

      This is why I always advice against free domains or ANYONE other then yourself registering a domain for you…far too many horror stories later on.

    • GDI Blog

      2 years ago i lost one of the most valuable domains i had because i forgot to renew it 🙂

    • dadhakumar

      You’re correct to keep an eye on which package we go for.

    • scott

      Good tip. Whenever anyone starts out and registers a domain, they think it’s pretty easy to not forget. But once you’ve been doing it +10 years, it can be pretty easy to miss it.

    • Hami

      sometime back I heard that you can get hold of your domain by giving some amount to provider.. what say about this fact? is it so? any body knows anything about it ?

    • Samuel

      Thanks 4 d enlightment..! Wel 4 me i was given a free domain for life

    • Rajeel

      hi Pradeep,
      I have bought a webhosting account with justhost and they offer a free domain for life. My domain is with 1and1 currently and should i transfer it to justhost?

      Heard some rumours that handling Hosting and domain with different is better. Heard that it’s not advisible to use hosting and domain togeather on same hosting.

      What’s your opinion in this ?

      • S.Pradeep Kumar

        Rajeel, Some web host provide you cheap or even free domain names, but you can’t able to transfer it. So it will be difficult to sell the concerned website (if you are going to sell it in future) ! 🙂

        As of now, I believe you can’t transfer the domain name you get freely from your webhost*.

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