Cherry.com/BuyMeCherry.com, which one of these are you more likely to trust? The answer is obvious.
A good domain name does not only give you credibility but also helps in building your brand identity on the web. A layman would assume and expect the brand ‘xyz’ to provide their online services at ‘xyz.com’. That’s how valuable domain names have become.
If you are able to get a nice, matching domain for your brand then that name can be one of your most important assets. Now, if they can be so valuable, why do we have to renew domain names every year? Once missed, and swoosh! All your hard work goes up in ashes. Can’t we just register them forever?
Well, it’s not that easy. Let’s dive into the world of domain names and understand how domains actually work, how you can own one and if you can own one forever.
What is a domain name?
In a nutshell, domains names are the readable addresses of resources on the internet.
What do readable addresses mean?
Well, you must be aware of IP addresses. 126.96.36.199 is how an IPv4 looks like. Every resource on the internet is hosted on a server which has an IP attached to it. But since these numbers are difficult to remember, domain names come into picture to save the day. A domain is mapped to an IP so that instead of typing 188.8.131.52 in the browser you can just write www.zozuk.com and access the website.
Can you buy a domain name forever?
Well, the answer to this question is complex. It depends on what you refer to as ‘lifetime’. Do you mean for as long as you live? For as long as your company exists? Or for as long as the concept of domain names keeps on existing?
There are some domain registrars which offer domains for life, but they always have their own definition of ‘lifetime’. Moreover, since your domain name is managed by a domain registrar, even if you buy a domain name for life, in theory, your website goes down immediately if your domain registrar company dissolves.
How to buy a domain name for life?
ICANN, the governing body which controls all the internet institutions and manages its core infrastructure, restricts the maximum unexpired term of the domain names to ten years. You can buy a domain for upto 10 years with almost any registrar but there are some registrars which have found workarounds to the ten-year limit.
For example, Network Solutions offers ‘Domain Expiration Protection’ which keeps your domain safe for up to one year if they cannot charge your credit card or you are unable to renew on time. This again does not mean that you will own the domain forever but it significantly reduces the risk of losing your domain.
GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain name registrar, also offers a similar service by the name ‘Protected Registration’.
In another scenario, you can also buy a free domain from registrars providing .tk domain. The domain service runs for a year and afterward, you just have to renew your domain annually, for free. Domains like .tk are good for staging and temporary websites.
Note: It is NOT recommended to use free domains for production websites because you are provided limited rights over the domain name. You are considered as a user of the domain, not the licensee.
So, this is what we have got to say if you want to buy a domain name forever:
- Switch to Autorenewal: Register your domain names using established domain name registrars like GoDaddy or Namecheap and keeping them on autorenewal. This is almost close to owning a domain for life. If you are one such person who doesn’t check their emails often, the safest bet is to add your credit/debit card in the autorenewal option and it will take care of the rest.
- Expiration protection: Several domain name registrars like GoDaddy provide expiration protection. If you want to stick with a long-term plan and do not wish to registrars, this is the best option for you.
- Buy a domain for 10 years: The maximum permissible limit on the validation of a domain is set to 10 years, which is a very long period of time. You can also put the domain on auto renewal and expiration protection for maximum protection.
Are subdomains like .blogspot.com & .wordpress.com free forever?
Well theoretically, the answer to this is yes. You can opt for a free subdomain for lifetime on domain providers like WordPress.com and Blogspot.com. But these plans come with limited functionality and storage options. So, even if it is free for lifetime, you have to upgrade to a premium plan to make the best out of it.
Why domain names have to be renewed every year?
The reason domain names have to be renewed every year is because there are costs associated with maintaining the infrastructure that manages your domain name for you.
For example, when you buy a domain name from a registrar like GoDaddy, they are responsible for taking care of the domain name for you. Moreover, there are complex systems in place to make domain names work the way they do and it costs large sums of money to maintain and operate them. Here’s an interesting article by Dave Taylor on why we have to pay for domain names.
Do companies like Facebook and Google own their domains permanently?
Businesses and tech giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft use brand protection service providers who handle their domain names for them.
MarkMonitor is the most popular amongst them. MarkMonitor claims that over half of the top Fortune 100 companies and 8 out of the top 10 most visited websites use their services. expensive plans provide secure and strong hosting to their customers.
It is a great way to ensure that your brand is protected against not just domain expiration but a lot of other things like theft and fraud.
Practically, there is no way to buy a domain forever and according to us, it has more pros than cons. The biggest advantages are that the internet is able to function well and you always have a chance to get hold of the domain of your dreams.
You can, however, own a domain for 10 years at once which in itself is a significant period of time and protect it against expiration using the methods given above.