16 August 2018 | Less than a minute to read
Emails and website went down. Oh well, no one died!
No one died, but you sure lost a lot of hair, emails and business over it. Not to mention the hit to your business reputation.
Not maintaining your domain can be a tricky and costly exercise. Here’s a scenario which happens surprisingly often and one that we’ve just gone through with a local business.
It could happen to you if you don’t keep your domain renewals up to date.
A customer inherits an existing setup for emails, domains and website. The handover of the entire setup can sometimes be a bit vague, and that’s ok until a domain expires without an alert and no login details have been provided - let alone anyone knowing where to find them!
Consequently, the website falls flat on its face and the emails stop arriving, bouncing back to the sender with ‘return to sender, address unknown’.
A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. In other words, the domain name is your website name, is the address where Internet users can access your website.
How did this happen?
Often the email address sending the renewal notices no longer exists, as the person in the organisation is no longer a part of it.
Then what happens is the account is tied directly to a domain provider account which is linked to an old login that has not been used or updated since 1980 (in this recent case the company was actually founded 1997..but hey!), and the domain account can only be accessed within G-Suite.
So you log in via G-Suite and the domain is not there, as the provider has upgraded stuff and the account is out of date. The domain lookup checks show that the domain is still active, but as it turns out, the records just haven’t been updated yet.
Confused? Going around in circles? Yep!
G-suite is a brand of cloud computing and software tools developed by Google (Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, etc). For businesses, G-Suite offers custom email addresses at a domain (firstname.lastname@example.org) and other administrative tools.
What we did to fix it: Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day...
So now that you’ve got thoroughly confused and absolutely nowhere you contact us to try and sort it out.
We start an online chat to G-Suite to advise that the customer is having issues, only to find out the domain expired. Their advice - speak to the domain provider!
An online chat to the domain host gets blocked because they won’t authorize our conversation without an account, and take 2-3 days to respond to the queries (and several follow up emails) including a 2 am Saturday morning rant.
So by now, the emails have been down for three to four days…
Finally, almost five days after the emails have gone down, the organisation is back up and running.
What have they lost?
Business! Money! Reputation! Including:
- Potentially critical email correspondence. As the domain had expired, the emails were considered a ‘hard bounce’ and were returned as errors to the sender. There is no easy way of working out what has been missed. How many people review bounced messages when they come back?
- Cost of an IT company to restore their services.
- Recovery costs from Domain Provider.
- No way of knowing who wanted to contact them.
What could be done differently?
In organisations where people are changing roles or leaving it’s best to have a third party (like us!) manage the domain renewals and emails as this is something we understand and manage on a daily basis - keeping you operational.
Keep the email address on the domain registration to a generic email that you know it is always going to be operating and checked if you want to self-manage.
Find a secure place to record all the important details: domain names, usernames, passwords, contact details, email accounts, hosting company, etc. These are important factors to ensure continued operating practice without incurring unnecessary hair loss and financial cost.