In the website hosting business, there’s two things you need to look after. Paying for your hosting, and unless it’s included (which is more common now than it used to be), paying for your domain name–so people can actually get to where you’ve hosted your site. domain names are usually payd for from anywhere from 1 to as many as 10 years at a time, whereas your hosting package is usually monthly. Here’s the thing, though. Let’s say you’ve got yourself 3 or 4 domain names you’ve registered for this or that project you’re working on. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve got people running their websites off your space and don’t want to be bothered maintaining their own domain names–enter the geek with nothing better to do. So you set up the site, you pick out your domain name, you plop down the usually $10-$20 per year depending on the company and type of domain name, and you pretty much forget it exists until the bill for the next 1, 2, 5 or whatever years comes due. But let’s say, just for the sake of keeping with our hypothetical situation here, you’ve finished your project, or you’ve simply decided to move your personal website to a domain that’s, well, more personal. Either way, you no longer have a use for the domain name, even if you can’t really officially lose it until the registration expires. So it sits there, and you go on about your business–it’ll expire and be done with when it’s done with, right? Wrong. Well, if you’re with Network Solutions, anyway.
Most domain name registrars–the people who actually keep a record of your domain name, who it belongs to, and where you’ve told it to point to–will warn you when your domain’s coming due–the registrar I use (find a nifty little plug for them later in the post) starts poking me about 3 months before the domain expires with a little “Hey bud? You’ve got this thing over here.”. In fact, that reminds me–I need to pay for this domain here shortly, but anyway. Even the ones who let you tell them yes, it’s perfectly okay to automatically renew the registration of those domains (my previous web host let me do that) will still shove warnings under your nose, just in case you’re not using the thing anymore, and/or it completely slipped your mind you’ve registered the domain. Network Solutions? They’ll just bill you. There’s no notification of any kind, no warning, and apparently no off switch for automatic renewal. You just wake up one morning, go scroll your creditcard statement to make sure your monthly subscription to Dropbox went through–you *are* on Dropbox, right?–and wham. Oh, hi, Network Solutions. Fancy meeting you here. It’s more than a little dodgey, and sadly they’re not the only company who does things exactly like that–they’re just the first registrar I’ve heard of doing it. And I’m reminded why automatic access to bank accounts, creditcards, what have you for the most part sends me in the other direction–but that’s another entry for another topic on another day.
If you’re using Network Solutions for anything web or other such geek stuff related, give serious thought to maybe not. And if you’re still not entirely sure, rethink it. Then, pack up what you have, and send your domain names in this direction. I separated my domain’s registration from its hosting a bit over a year ago–which worked out, since the hosting I was using fell through, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve been with my current registrar pretty much problem free since. And yes, I’m pretty sure tomorrow, I’ll be staring at another warning from them that a domain I’m holding onto will expire in 2 weeks–and they won’t sneak it on my creditcard bill. But regardless who you have your domain registered through, it might not aughta be Network Solutions. At least not if you don’t like surprises.
Thanks goes to May for pointing me at this. And much thanks goes to Network Solutions, who once again shows any aspiring business person what exactly not to do. Keep that up and I’ll have to make you your very own category, guys.
Rumour has it Network Solutions offeres hosting as well. If you know anyone hosted through them, feel free to have them get in touch. I’ll help them shuffle domain names around–and, hey, maybe even provide them with a little hosting space. It’s not like I don’t have the room.