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Keeping Track of Domain Expirations?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the managing-domains-across-many-registrars dept.

The Internet 39

phutureboy asks: "Between providing hosting for several dozen web sites and consulting for a number of clients who run their own servers, lately I find myself overwhelmed with keeping track of domain expirations. Although the domains which I've personally registered are consolidated under one Register.com account, there are many others spread among multiple registrars, to which I may or may not have administrative access. It would take days or weeks of frustration to audit them all and make sure my clients' contact information is up to date. Does anyone have any tips for dealing with this mess?"

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hmm - maybe a calendar????? (3, Informative)

sfjoe (470510) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664753)



http://www.gnu.org/software/gcal/gcal.html

Re:hmm - maybe a calendar????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7665810)

Yeah. Use Excel.

I know exactly what you mean... (3, Interesting)

jaredcat (223478) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664808)

I have abour 200 domains that I administer for my company. Most of them are in 1 DomainDirect account, but there are a bunch spread out over 5 or 6 different registries.

The best solution that I've come up with so far is to have all of the domain registrars use the same email address (in this case admin@mydomain.com) which I use ONLY for contact with the registrars, and I put it under a very heavy spamfilter rating.

Then the only problem is that I have to remember to check that email account once a week or so.

Jared

Yes. 6 simple steps (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664811)

1. Open Evolution
2. Open Konsole
3. In the Konsole window type "whois
4. Set Alarm in Evolution for 1 month prior to above domains expiration date. Then cut and paste who is output into the notes section of the alarm.
5. Repeat steps 3 through 5 for all domains.
6. On the second day, find something useful to do with your time and quit being such a putz.

Re:Yes. 6 simple steps (1)

DrZaius (6588) | more than 10 years ago | (#7669795)

You've probably have never had to deal with more than 50 domains before, have you?

Domain Reminder (4, Informative)

ziggles (246540) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664816)

http://www.domainreminder.org/index.php

From their website. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664839)

Domain Reminder is currently monitoring 42 domain names.

I wonder how they can possibly handle the load of all those domains? I am in awe.

Re:From their website. (1)

satanami69 (209636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7665333)

Stand back; It's up to 43 now.

Re:From their website. (0)

xiopher (699208) | more than 10 years ago | (#7668676)

Domain Reminder is currently monitoring 124 domain names
It's gaining :-)

Re:Domain Reminder (1)

jafuser (112236) | more than 10 years ago | (#7668875)

Heh.. I could have used this a week ago. Took me a day of getting no spam to notice something was off =)

Re:Domain Reminder (1)

zeen (620197) | more than 10 years ago | (#7688494)

I was wondering where all these registered users were coming from!. It didn't /. too much :)

Transfer... (3, Interesting)

avalys (221114) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664836)

You could always transfer all the domains to the same registrar. It can get expensive, but some companies give you bulk discounts.

What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664860)

hosting for several dozen web sites.... It would take days or weeks of frustration to audit them all

Why? What's the problem? Even if you only type with two fingers, I can't imagine this taking more than 4 hours per year.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7672020)

Even if you only type with two fingers, I can't imagine this taking more than 4 hours per year.

Tell me about it - he's already got a list.. why can't he just run a bunch of WHOIS queries (properly throttled) to get the expiries, and store the results in a text file.. then run a cron job to parse the file once per day and return anything that's set to expire.

Jebus, but this is lame.. the reason his 'tool' doesn't exist is because it's 10 minutes worth of shell scripting.

Dumbass! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7665142)

Good idea by responding, guys. Let's give this loser and his lame-ass buddies a method on how to hijack domain names.

On a side note, here [goatse.cx] is some information on how to actually track domain names.

I'm going to build something to manage this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7665198)

The company I work for has the same problem. Thousands of domains do get hard to manage. I've been tasked to write a tool that will help with requesting domains (internally, so that they can be purchased, etc) and to have the tool help manage them by keeping all the information updated in the database. It would send out expiry emails, have a workflow for requests, etc.

I'm going to be using php and mysql to code it.

I wish I could release it as GPL, but it's too specific to the company I work for and the lawyers won't let me.

switch (2, Interesting)

kayen_telva (676872) | more than 10 years ago | (#7665221)

perhaps move them all to a registrar [srsplus.com] that specializes in bulk domains (7.95 domains and transfers too) !

not an ad ! my former employer used them.

Easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7665449)

Simply give all of your customers my email address, and I will look after them.

No more problems for you :)

(no subject) (0)

charlie763 (529636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7665467)

Register the domains so that they all expire at the same time. You can make May domain month.

Try AutoRenew (3, Interesting)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 10 years ago | (#7665479)

First step is to transfer them all to a lower priced registrar: Reason for this is easy, registrars are now a commodity and the lowest price wins. I use godaddy for everything and have found their customer service to be pretty good.

I register everything in my customers names except for the technical contact and then I turn on the AutoRenew option for each one. Godaddy then sends me a few notices as a reminder before actually renewing them. I never worry about losing them.

I actually foot the bill for the auto renew as a bonus for hosting with me and customers like that, it's a good sales point to let the customer know once you have reeled them in. The little things mean a lot.

Hope this all helps.

Re:Try AutoRenew (1)

vince1 (660035) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674358)

First step is to transfer them all to a lower priced registrar: Reason for this is easy, registrars are now a commodity and the lowest price wins. I use godaddy for everything and have found their customer service to be pretty good.

I register everything in my customers names except for the technical contact and then I turn on the AutoRenew option for each one. Godaddy then sends me a few notices as a reminder before actually renewing them. I never worry about losing them.

Not just the lowest price, but the best price/performance/service ratio should win. I don't have experience with Godaddy, but am speaking from experience over the last 10 years of dealing with horrible service from domain registrars, with Network Solutions/VeriSign being the worst. There are a lot of registrars out there that appear cheaper at first but are not at all in the long run. See http://inetaddresses.net/about_us.html [inetaddresses.net] .

If you have customers who are choosing their own registrar (as they should) then transferring all the domains to one registrar is not an option.

First of all, any good registrar will notify their customers well in advance of domains expiring. If your customers are not getting notified, you should highly recommend they change registrars. If you really want to provide a monitoring service, then the script idea to monitor the whois database suggested by j-turkey is probably the best.

I never allow my ISP's to register my domains for me because most of them end up using Network Solutions, which turns out to be a nightmare. Read this story [inetaddresses.net] about how they conspired to steel a domain.

After years of getting bad/slow/inadequate service from variouis registrars I have tried, this is the best service for the price I have found.

http://inetaddresses.net [inetaddresses.net]

There are also links on the inetaddresses.net site to the story mentioned above plus other good information about registering domains and what to watch out for.

Re:Try AutoRenew (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 10 years ago | (#7711342)

> First step is to transfer them all to a lower priced registrar: Reason for this is easy, registrars are now a commodity and the lowest price wins. I use godaddy for everything and have found their customer service to be pretty good.

I would say that the best price/features combination should win.

Personally, I find the package offered by eNom to be very comprehensive, their suppot quite good and the price cheap - as long as you buy through a reseller and not directly from eNom (e.g., $8.88/year from namecheap [namecheap.com] ).
If you don't need to use eNom's DNS services, you can buy just a domain name for $5.99.
Free dynamic DNS service is a nice addition.

GoDaddy seems to be good too and they have a promotion on .com ($7.95) and .us ($4.95) domains until the end of the year.
I wonder how their package compares to eNom's.

Re:Try AutoRenew (1)

vince1 (660035) | more than 10 years ago | (#7720036)


I would say that the best price/features combination should win.


I fully agree.

Personally, I find the package offered by eNom to be very comprehensive, their suppot quite good and the price cheap - as long as you buy through a reseller and not directly from eNom (e.g., $8.88/year from namecheap.com).

I looked at namecheap.com and it looked pretty interesting. However, I had two bad first impressions about them.

First, they are running their site on Microsoft Windows. That gives me questions about the intelligence of the company and security of your domain registrations. It is likely to have about as much security that Hotbot, running on MS Windows, did when they had thousands (or was it millions) of their email accounts compromised. We don't really want every virus that comes along to wipe out our domain resolution service. That essentially brings our site down, even if our web servers are running Unix and are not directly affected (unless we run all our own name servers and do not use any URL redirection provided by the registrar). We always use Unix based services for all Internet services. We generally prefer BSD based ones.

Second, I click on their contact link and see no phone number. Just email. I found this to be common with the really low priced registrars. The ones we have tried have always costed us a lot more in lost time and headache in the long run. As I mentioned on my other reply, I have found most registrars do not stand up to the service they promise. If you do not get adequate resolution to a problem via email (which has been the case about 70-80% of the time with us), having no phone number to call just leaves you out in the cold.

I also checked eNom.com. They are also running on Microsoft Windows. They, at least, have contact phone numbers but they are not toll free. From my experiences with other registrars, especially Network Solutions, leaving us on hold for 45 minutes to reach a human, that is also a deterrent. Notice that InetAddresses.net [inetaddresses.net] has a link to a toll free phone number for 24 hour technical support right on the front page.

Re:Try AutoRenew (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 10 years ago | (#7721050)

> I looked at namecheap.com and it looked pretty interesting. However, I had
> two bad first impressions about them.
>
> First, they are running their site on Microsoft Windows. That gives me
> questions about the intelligence of the company and security of your domain
> registrations. It is likely to have about as much security that Hotbot,
> running on MS Windows, did when they had thousands (or was it millions) of
> their email accounts compromised. We don't really want every virus that comes
> along to wipe out our domain resolution service.

Blanket statements about the inherent insecurity of Windows hosted sites only serve to show the bias of the speaker.
The biggest security problem with Windows is the low barrier for entry. There are a lot of Windows "admins" who will work for less but cannot tell security from a guava. Of course, there are good ones but you have to pay them as much as you'd pay a good unix admin (sometimes more, because they have also unix administration experience) and most companies prefer to cut corners.

That said, most eNom resellers just act as a front end to eNom. The actual registration (and domain name services) are done on eNom's site.

> Second, I click on their contact link and see no phone number. Just email.
> I found this to be common with the really low priced registrars. The ones we
> have tried have always costed us a lot more in lost time and headache in the
> long run. As I mentioned on my other reply, I have found most registrars do
> not stand up to the service they promise. If you do not get adequate
> resolution to a problem via email (which has been the case about 70-80% of
> the time with us), having no phone number to call just leaves you out in the
> cold.

You don't need to call them. Once they set up your account, you deal directly with eNom.
For example, I bought my domain name from polardomains.com a couple of years ago and never had to deal with them again.

Anyway, if you don't like them, shop around [whois.sc] . How does $5/year sound?

> I also checked eNom.com. They are also running on Microsoft Windows.

Bias again, eh?

They are the fifth largest registrar and are usually in 1st-3rd place (with Tucows and GoDaddy) among the fastest growing (it fluctuates, currently GoDaddy is 1st). Check Registrar Stats [registrarstats.com] for details.

> They, at least, have contact phone numbers but they are not toll free. From
> my experiences with other registrars, especially Network Solutions, leaving
> us on hold for 45 minutes to reach a human, that is also a deterrent. Notice
> that InetAddresses.net has a link to a toll free phone number for 24 hour
> technical support right on the front page.

I have never had a problem with eNom, whether I was calling them from across the border or from across the Atlantic. I am happy with them and I intend to stay. Can't say they're perfect but then, nobody is.

Bottom line, you have my recommendation but the final choice is yours. Good luck.

Do the multiyear registration -- 10 Years ~` $150 (2, Informative)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 10 years ago | (#7665575)

Hunt around and find a registrar offering a sweet deal on 10 years of registration and forget about it. Usually you can get them down to $10-$15 per year and maybe cheaper if you transfer a bunch of domains over. I converted all my domains to the 10 year plan when tucows ran their last special and now I don't have to go crazy worrying about it anymore.

In 10 years, the Internet and world will probably be a very different place. Get the monkey off your back.

Found it, 10 - year registration for $7.95 /yr (2, Interesting)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 10 years ago | (#7665627)

Ok, here ya go, these guys are running the special this month.. REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN FOR 10 YEARS for $79.95

http://www.koredomains.com/ [koredomains.com]

Make the problem go away!

Someone had 6 steps. I..5! (4, Funny)

E_elven (600520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7665975)

1) Go to Staples (or OfficeMax)

2) Buy 12 post-it notes (you can get more if you're on a high-end budget. But get a val-u-pak, then.) Also buy a pencil (not a pen -very important!)

3) If you don't have a wall or refrigerator door, get one.

4) For each month, take a post-it note, write the month's name on top. For each month-labeled post-it, write down the *name of company; *domain in question; *registrar used; *logins, passwords etc.; *contact information (which you update when it changes); *day the domain expires; *any other useful info (you can create a code for this so it's easier to store in the small space.)

5) Apply post-its in annual order to the wall or refrigerator door. If you store sensitive data such as the domain password for IBM, you can place the note *inside* the freezer box of the refrigerator. VERY secure.

Hope that helps!

.

data base (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7666043)

Just make a small database with all of the domains in them and the info about them. Run reports once a month of upcoming closers. Should be simple. Just a couple of hours of data input and your done.

Keeping track of domains (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7666099)

Melbourne IT have a managed service called Corporate Domain Management whicb performs an initial audit and consolidation of domain names and then simplifies ongoing management tasks through dedicated account management, online access to your portfolio etc. They have a growing list of corporate clients and listed in this years annual report IAG, St George, Smorgon Steel amongst others. There is a product description on on www.melbourneit.com.au

Re:Keeping track of domains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7676428)

Gods no.

I'm in the process of moving a dozen domains *away* from Melbourne IT (to Register.com).

If you don't feel like setting up a database... (1)

Pooquey (549981) | more than 10 years ago | (#7666102)

You can right a shell script to parse the whois based on a list of domains and have it email you if the date is close.

You don't have to wait... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7666482)

You don't have to renew the registrations right before they expire, you know. Just make a big list and renew all of them at the same time, once per year.

Impose some rules (0, Redundant)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 10 years ago | (#7666905)

The only thing you can really do is to consolidate them all to one registrar.

But then to prevent getting into the situation again, you should impose some "rules" - which is what I did:

1. All new domains must be registerd with the "approved" registrar, by you. You will not deal with any domains that are not.

2. Any domains you are taking over must transfer to the approved registrar before you will commit to managing them.

3. Any transfer away from the approved registrar automatically relieves you of any responsibility for managing the domain after that.

If clients complain, explain that the work involved in juggling multiple registrars is too much. If they insist, then negotiate a higher management rate for their domain to cover your costs.

Whaddabout a shell script? (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7668109)

Why not just write a shell (or Perl) script to run a whois on each of your clients' domains, grep'ing for "xpires on:" (or whatever) and stripping out all non-date info.

Next, have it write out all domains with a month or less before expiration to a file. If the file is not empty, have it email the results to the appropriate people (I'd make it you -- and you can notify your clients if they maintain control over the domains).

Finally, run your script as a weekly cron job.

If you're extra-serious about this (and want to keep DNS records current with your last-known contact information), create a relational DB (I'd suggest something free, like Postgres or MySQL) with contact information for your clients. Depending on what information your registrar makes publicly available, you can use this weekly cron job to compare what you have on file with what the registrar has on file and alert you to any changes.

This way, your clients can keep control over their DNS records, and you can audit them to let yor clients know that there is a problem. Hell, you'd be a step ahead of Microsoft, who just lets their domains expire until some Good Samaritan bails them out.

Good luck!
--Turkey

Tell MS! (1)

Grab (126025) | more than 10 years ago | (#7668645)

When you work it out, I suggest you tell Microsoft so they can use this for keeping track of when to renew their Hotmail domain names...

Grab.

You answered your own question. (1)

Harik (4023) | more than 10 years ago | (#7670296)

Spend the days or weeks needed to audit them all. Alternately, contact your customers that have registered their own domains and remind them that it's their responsibility to maintain the registration information unless they give you access. We don't let any that we have control over expire, but I get calls from customers who have let their own domains lapse from time to time. Nothing I can do about that.

OK, here is the solution I came up with (1)

phutureboy (70690) | more than 10 years ago | (#7676204)

Wow, thanks for all the helpful suggestions. I have read what everyone said, and here is what I decided to do:

1. I wrote a quick batch/commandline PHP program which will retrieve and parse the whois information for a list of domains on a daily basis, and mail an expiration report to me. It's not perfect but it works. The script can be downloaded here: http://www.axis80.com/domain_watcher_20031209.tar. gz [axis80.com]

2. When each client's domain comes up for renewal, I'll check their contact information and make any changes necessary to bring it up to date, unless it's a NetSol domain, in which case I'll just throw my hands up in frustration.

Anyway, thanks again for all the good ideas. Hope others find the PHP script useful.

I've had a good experience with. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7677789)

OmegaSphere... they have really good pricing when you have lots of domains. They don't really have any info on their site, but I contacted support about their 'reseller program' and they got me setup with an account where I can see all the domains in one place and auto-renew and that kind of thing. Support has been great as well, so I can't complain...

I think their URL is www.omegasphere.net though I could be mistaken.

Plug for GoDaddy (1)

dsb3 (129585) | more than 10 years ago | (#7686158)

I'm looking at godaddy's registrar offerings with great interest as one of the features they offer (and which I've not seen elsewhere) is domain synchronization.

Move your domains over, hit the button, and they all now expire on the same day. One post-it note on the fridge, one payment.

(I said "looking at", not "using" since naturally I'm reserved about leaping into something just because the marketing looks good .... a trial registration with a single throwaway domain seems to be working out well, though)
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