Staking your claim online for your small business begins with setting up a website — which actually begins with purchasing the domain name that will serve as its address. You want this domain name to be customized to your company and easy for people to remember and type.
You probably figure it’s a process you’d like to do once and never worry about again. After all, it seems like your business name will stay the same. So, you may not foresee any reasons to want to change or alter your domain name. A question on your mind might be: Can you buy a domain name permanently?
Here’s more on the logistics of buying a domain name and how long these contracts typically last.
Think of Your Domain Name as a Lease
While you are buying a domain name in the sense that you’re handing over money to utilize a web address, it’s actually more useful to think of it as a lease. Why? Because you are not actually buying the domain name outright for yourself forever. Rather, you’re leasing it from a registrar. The registrar still technically owns the domain name, but you are purchasing the rights to use it for a set amount of time — often one year.
As one industry expert writes for Forbes, it is actually not possible to buy a domain name from the registry. It’s only possible to lease a domain name from a registrar, which is a company that handles the logistics of registering domain names.
While it’s very common to see one-year contracts for domain names, many registrars do offer the option of entering into a longer lease agreement. It is sometimes possible to register for your desired domain name for three, five or even 10 years. Whenever you are comparing domain sellers, scope out not only the price and availability of their domain names but also the options for the length of the contract.
Risks of Long-Term Domain Name Contracts
Although it may seem like less hassle to just invest in a longer contract up front, there are a few risks associated with doing so. This is why some experts recommend sticking to a one-year contract, then setting a reminder to renew it before it expires if you’d like to uphold your agreement again. One example of a risk here is that the registrar would, for some reason, stop existing — leaving you in the lurch if you had already paid for additional years of service only to have the seller essentially drop off the map before you were able to get your money’s worth.
However, the risk of buying a domain name for only a year is that you may forget to pay the renewal fee — which frees up the domain name that was previously yours to be purchased by, well, anyone. There’s even a phenomenon known as cybersquatting where strangers buy expired domain names when they become available in case the former owner of the URL will pay big bucks to get it back so as not to disrupt their business website.
While you cannot buy a domain name permanently, you can potentially lease one for up to 10 years. Some business owners decide to opt for one-year contracts in case something was to happen to the seller. If you go this route, it’s important to set up auto-renewal for your payment so you don’t lose your domain. Other business owners find it easier to purchase a domain for a couple years at a time, or even a decade. However long you decide to lock down your chosen domain name, finding a reputable registrar from which to lease it is key.