Geekery Rants Software Updates

Website Drama – Forgetting the basics

In this post I do my best to detail the circumstances and ramifications of forgetting to renew a web address.

Well, the cobbler’s kids and all that – last week my website went down.

I’ve been going through a process throughout the last year of consolidating some various web properties I own, shutting down experiment sites, consolidating blog posts, setting up new hosting, and transferring domains. Kind of a year long housecleaning project that I have placed on myself.

Well, that is all well and good, except that last week I really screwed up something. I forgot to renew

It seems stupid, it seems obvious, and believe me, I swore at myself many times that day, but here is how it happened.

1) e-Mail

I have not used for email in quite some time – I have however, traditionally had a catch all address for this domain that I monitored and let SPAM fall into. I registered almost 10 years ago – when I registered it, lord knows what email address I used. During my cleaning, I moved the DNS for this site to my shiny new DreamHost account. When I logged in back in May, I noticed that I still had some time on my registration, but my intent would be to move the registration at a later date. I should have moved it then.

After deciding to move the DNS to DreamHost, I opted to set up a Google Apps account for all mail going to – at my old host I had an in-box set up and mail was forwarded to my main address, and I had just completed moving all of the leftover mail to that account.

Now, here is where the first problem arises – in order to complete the gMail set up, I must prove I own the domain – in order to prove I own the domain, I must upload a file to the site – I do that, but realize my DNS is still propagating, and Google is not catching the new site yet – so I decide to come back later and do that. The only problem? I don’t.

Since I don’t really use for email, I don’t really mind not getting all of the SPAM – I realized later that I have yet to complete that, so I do (If memory serves, there was an account I needed to adjust that was using I finish the Google Apps set up and set my forward and life goes on, hunky dory.

I don’t remember when all of this happened, and I don’t know if it they really did, but I will give the benefit of the doubt that this entire time they were sending renewal emails to an email address at

2) Lets me down – hard.

It was my fault – I assume they where sending me emails. I didn’t get them. I didn’t renew my domain. It expired. I didn’t notice until I when to my site and it was gone. I will admit that, but here is what I wish would have happened. had to get a message back saying the email had failed. They have other ways to contact me. I wish they would have called or sent a letter. If they has sent a letter, it honestly would have went to the wrong address, since my information was so out of date. I would have gladly updated that, had they attempted at any time in the past few years to get in touch about updating it.  I realize that it isn’t their fault they had bad information, but I would think they would want to attempt to keep it current. Hell, they could have just checked and found a million ways to contact me.

3) The chat

I’ll admit a bit of a panic fell over me when I saw my site was down – I immediately attempted to transfer to DreamHost. A few minutes later, when my wits came about me, it occurred to me that I would not be able to do that, so I logged into to renew.

I forgot how expensive they are. Goodness.

I logged into the chat to talk to a sales rep and asked directly if I could be waived the 25 dollar reinstatement fee and if I could register my domain for 9.95 instead of 35 dollars. I also asked if I could get free private registration, since that was the deal at DreamHost. I was told no.

I pressed until I got the domain for 35, without the reinstatement fee and opted for no private registration (I will be transferring to DreamHost when I can). Now my site is up and running again and and all is well, or so I thought.

4) Google results gone.

Screen shot 2009-09-20 at 12.15.40 PM

I’ve had my site since before I cared about search – but for the past 5 or so years, I have used my name and Google as a play ground for SEO. Today I searched for my name and found that my site was already blown away and gone. This was terribly disappointing, and I am glad that google has already re-indexed my site – but as you can see from the screen shot above, all was not well over the weekend.

The Lesson

This has been a great way to get down to the root of the problem I had, and honestly a great experiment in what happens when sites fail, and how fast search positions can be lost and (hopefully) be re-gained. I would still like to know why it takes Google so long to re-index 301 re-directs though. Anyone know?