Can you buy a domain name forever?
This question gets asked by many people wanting to get into the world of domain trading and by those who are exploring domains for their own personal or professional projects.
When we pay for a domain, we often believe that it means we own a domain and this isn’t actually the case. In reality, domain name ownership means renting them for specific periods of time but there are ways that we can extend this rental period to a much longer-term.
To add a bit more complexity to an already confusing topic, the world of blockchain domains means that we now have the ability to own certain domains forever. This is a new technology and with it brings a selection of benefits but also some potential pitfalls to be aware of.
This article aims to summarise the key aspects of domain ownership and provide a detailed insight into how to rent a domain for the long term and buy one so you own it forever.
Let’s start with the basics of what a domain name is and what types you can choose
Before we get to the stage of explaining why a domain can’t be purchased forever unless we venture into the world of blockchain technology, it’s good to look back at the history of domains and the types of domains that are available to date.
The history of domains
Internet domains are managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They were founded in 1998, as a non-profit organization with the goal of managing the Domain Name System (DNS).
The DNS helps people connect a specific domain name with an IP address, making it much easier to search for a website by not having to write a list of numbers. ICANN are the ones that decide on the domain process, extensions that can be introduced etc and for this reason, it limits the potential of domains.
The types of domain extension
The types of traditional domain extension fall into three main categories:
- gTLD: This is the original type of domain extension and includes the most well-known types such as .com, .net and .org.
- ccTLD: These domain extensions are country-focused, designed to reflect the location of a business or entity. Common examples include .co.uk for the UK and .ca for Canada.
- New gTLD: With the growth in e-commerce, there was a need for new extensions and ICANN have allowed a raft of new types of extension such as .blog and .tech.
All of these types of domains fall under the traditional category of domains and as a result, can’t be purchased forever. We go into detail below about why this is the case and some top tips on how to register domains for as long as possible.
Why can’t a traditional domain be purchased forever?
As highlighted above, traditional domains can’t be purchased forever in the sense of owning it like you would a house or business. The best way to think of the process is that you would rent or lease it.
The main reason why you can’t buy a domain forever is that they are owned and controlled by multiple players. Firstly, a domain is given by ICANN to a registry operator who then allows a registrar like Cloudname or GoDaddy to pay a fee for the particular domains they offer.
These registrars don’t want to sell a domain to people because they can make a regular income from renewal payments, often every year and for up to a period of 10 years. In turn, the registrar pays fees to ICANN and this circle of payments is something no one wants to stop!
Top tips for keeping a domain for as long as possible
If you need a traditional domain for your business or next personal project, then there are ways to keep your chosen domain for a very long time. Even if you don’t own it, you can ensure you have control over it for the foreseeable future. Here are a few top tips on how to make sure this happens.
Register for as long as possible
It may sound obvious but there are often different options you can choose when registering a domain. In general, the majority of registrars will offer terms over 1 or 2 years but some will offer more including a 5 or 10-year option.
As highlighted above, this doesn’t mean you own it but it does offer some protection for your business or brand knowing you have secured the domain for at least this period of time. Add in the features below and you effectively control it for as long as you required.
Use the auto-renew feature
Many people may not like auto-renew features on some subscriptions because you can get caught out with surprise payments or nasty price increases. However, with domains, it is a fantastic tool to use.
By choosing the auto-renew feature, you will remove the risk of forgetting your renewal date and losing access to a particular domain. We still recommend adding in reminders and your registrar should still notify you, but this safety net is definitely one to use.
Take advantage of expiration protection
The third tip in this section is a tool called expiration protection. It is an alternative to auto-renew and some domain companies offer this instead of, or as well as auto-renew.
This protection stops a domain registrar from selling your domain to another person for up to a year after your registration expires. For example, should your card payment fail or auto-renew fail for some reason, they give you time to solve it before you lose the domain to someone else. This is a fantastic solution to stop bad luck from causing you to lose out.
Blockchains offer an alternative for those wanting a permanent domain
We’ve seen how inflexible the traditional domain system is and how to cope, but we now have access to technology which means we don’t need to live with a lack of ownership. Blockchain technology has opened up the world of blockchain domains and with this comes a fundamental ability to own a domain forever.
As a result of blockchain technology having a focus on decentralization, a domain system on this platform offers that same level of decentralization and freedom. These domains are held on a public registry and after you have purchased one, it then becomes yours forever!
We have a fantastic article all about this subject here.
Before getting involved though, it is important to understand both the pros and cons of this new form of website domain so you can make an informed and balanced decision.
The advantages of blockchain domains
Here are a handful of the benefits from choosing a blockchain domain over a traditional type of domain:
- – When you purchase this domain it belongs to you so there are zero renewal fees involved and no risk of losing it in the future unless you wish to sell it.
- – It utilizes blockchain technology and as a result, is decentralized and no organization such as a government can control your domain.
- – It can be used for blockchain wallets, websites and other projects so there is greater flexibility and usability with this type of domain.
The disadvantages of blockchain domains
It is important to remember that blockchain technology is still relatively new and as a result, there are certain disadvantages of choosing a blockchain domain over a traditional one:
- – This type of domain is not widely used yet and this lack of acceptance means some systems (e.g. certain web browsers) don’t support them yet, or they require you to install additional bits of software.
- – The lack of control and the freedom that decentralization brings means that it can be harder to protect branding and trademarks. This may put off some businesses and entrepreneurs.
- – There are far fewer options available to you with blockchain domains compared to traditional ones. There is a limited selection of extensions and until these grow, it may be harder to find that perfect domain for your specific requirements.
As you can see, for the vast majority of people owning their domain forever is simply not an option. The Domain Naming System is set up to stop this from happening and whilst we can debate the fairness of it, you can still keep control of your chosen domain for a very long time. If you feel this isn’t enough and ownership is absolutely vital, then the developing technology of blockchain domains is the place to be. As a future-proof concept, it is at the centre of Web3.0 and the ability to take back control from these massive organizations like ICANN.
Take a moment to explore our other articles for more information, or register with Cloudname to start trading domains and find that perfect blockchain domain for you!
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