SPECIAL REPORT: The benefits of domain consolidation

Consolidating your domain names can protect them from being hijacked or expiring - while saving you time and money. This article details the advantages of domain consolidation and explains the specific features you should look for when consolidating.

Does the following situation sound familiar? You may have registered some names with Network Solutions back when they were the only choice. Maybe your web designer recommended a different registrar for one of your sites. Or perhaps you tried a bargain basement registrar that a friend told you about. As a result, your names are now scattered across a number of different registrars and all come due at different times of the year for different prices. To make things worse, you need to remember a userid and password for each one and are not quite sure of which features come with each domain name. Luckily this problem can be easily corrected...

Domain consolidation lets you simplify the management of your domains by keeping them all in one safe place using an integrated set of tools to monitor, update and renew them. The advantages of domain consolidation include...

1. Safeguarding your names and giving you peace of mind: Domains are commonly lost due to inaccurate information and fraudulent transfers. If your contact information is out of date, you may not receive renewal notices or be aware of unauthorized changes to your domain. If your registrar does not have adequate procedures in place to safeguard your name against unauthorized transfers, your names may be at risk.

A new problem - starting this year, domain registrars are now required to verify the accuracy of domain contact information. If your information is out of date and your registrar is unable to contact you, they can delete your domain. Once your domain name expires, it may be snatched up by speculators who hope to sell or profit from your name. (Related article: How to protect your domain name from hijackers, porn pirates, and your registrar.)

Consolidating your names lets you easily oversee your domain list at a glance, and helps you avoid many of the pitfalls which can cause names to hijacked or deleted.

2. Convenience: Many registrars are now offering advanced features geared towards managing multiple domain names. It is now possible to have a master account which lists all of your domain names in one easy to view format sorted by expiration date. Once your names are consolidated in one place, you can apply changes to all of your names at once without having to individually edit each name. As an added convenience, you can select to have some or all of your names automatically renewed on a yearly basis.

3. Price and features: Domain prices have been steadily coming down. If you registered some of your domains at a more expensive rate, consolidating these domains with a lower cost registrar can save you a substantial amount of money. In addition, registrars are now offering many features for free that were once expensive add-ons. In many cases, you may be able to save money while switching to a registrar that provides better services.

How to consolidate your names...

Since the domain registration business has been opened to competition, it is now possible for domain owners to easily transfer their domains to a new registrar of their choice. Unlike switching web hosts, switching registrars requires no technical knowledge and typically involves no downtime.

You do not need to wait until your domain is about to expire to transfer it - when you transfer your domain name one year is added to your current expiration date.

You submit a domain transfer request with the registrar that you are switching to. Typically registrars highlight a special link on their homepage titled 'registrar transfers'.

Features to look for when selecting a registrar...

1. Automatic 'Registrar Lock' feature: Make sure that you can place a free 'registrar lock' on all of your domain names. This will lock your domain record at the registry level and prevent it from being transferred, modified or deleted by a third party. This feature is very helpful in protecting your name against unauthorized transfers and hijacking. Although some registrars can implement this on a manual basis if requested, look for a registrar that gives you full control over this feature via a control panel.

2. Master account with name management console: Look for a registrar that provides you with a password protected master account containing all your domain names. This saves you from having to remember different passwords and userids for each domain.

Make sure they offer a console or manager feature which lets you see all of your domain names (and their expiration dates) at a glance. Some registrars also offer the ability to sort and download custom reports of your domain names.

3. Automatic expiration date tracking and auto-renew option: This option will automatically track your domains' expiration dates and give you the option to have certain domains automatically renewed each year. This is a smart feature to use for your critical domains.

4. Global editing: This will allow you to make changes to all of your domains at once. For example, if you own twenty domains and your e-mail address changes, you will only need to make one change and all of your names' contact information will be updated. This can also come in handy if your web host makes a configuration change which effects all of your names.

5. Free web forwarding/redirection: Gives you the ability to forward/redirect or frame your domain names to any other URLs or web sites on the web. If you have registered several variations of your company's domain, you can use this feature to point them all to your main site. If you have free web space or a single hosting account, you can use redirection to create simple 'mini-sites' for each of your domains without incurring any additional hosting costs.

6. Free e-mail forwarding: Allows you to start receiving e-mail using your domain names and is especially useful for companies that do not yet have a web site or for those trying to market a domain name for sale.

7. Other important features for the future: Depending on your needs, you may also want to choose a registrar which offers other free services such as site building tools or advanced DNS capabilities. Since you are trying to find a registrar that will accommodate your future needs, be sure to think ahead.

Research the registrar itself...

1. Reliability: There are over one hundred different accredited registrars all offering domain registration services. Before entrusting your names to a registrar, make sure it is a legitimate company and one which is likely to be around for years to come. You may want to inquire about how long the company has been in business and how many names they have registered. You may also want to ask if the company is publicly traded or privately held.

2. Price: In this competitive field it is no longer necessary to pay $35/year for a domain. Shop around, but be sure to take into account any domain related services you will need to use. Some deep discount companies attract customers by offering low prices, but then charge additional monthly fees for add-on services such as e-mail or web forwarding.

Summary

Consolidating your domain names is an easy way to protect them from inadvertent expiration and unauthorized transfer - while saving you time and money. When consolidating your names, be sure to pick a registrar which caters to multiple domain owners and offers the tools you need to better manage your domains.

 

Where to consolidate your domain names? We have been recommending Register.com for several years and were pleased to see that they have recently added some of the best domain management features that we have come across.

We are particularly impressed with their Name Portfolio Management features which include an automatic 'registrar lock' default and the ability to view combined domain name reports sorted by expiration date - very helpful when viewing large lists of domains at a glance. Also noteworthy is their precise global editing control over contact info, DNS servers and renewal and registrar lock settings. This allows you to make changes to all (or a specific list) of your domains at once.

Special discount for BetterWhois visitors:  Register.com currently charges $35 a year for domain transfers via their retail site, however due to our high volume, we have secured a discounted rate of $15 which is available to all BetterWhois visitors via the following link:

http://www.regdiscount.com


If you found this article helpful, you might also be interested in....

Special Report: Protecting your domain name from hijackers, porn pirates, and your registrar

Special Report: How to protect your domain from cybersquatters

 


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