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I bought a .io domain through Namecheap. I foolishly let my registration expire however, and now Namecheap wants an extortionate fee to reinstate it.

I am not in a super urgent hurry to get my site back up, so I am considering placing a Back Order directly from the registry for .io domains (nic.io), so that I will own it myself [edit: you actually still own expired .io domains; see my answer].

My question is this: if I register my domain directly with nic.io, is it then my responsibility to set up a DNS server, or will nic.io do that for me?

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nic.io will not provide any registrar services for you, or any other services, aside from acquiring the domain name.

As explained in the site you linked, if you gain the domain name through a backorder, you have 30 days to transfer it to the registrar of your choice, and once the transfer is complete, then it is a live domain again.

You then get DNS service from your registrar, Route 53, some other provider, or do it yourself.

If you can wait 90 days, then backordering your own expired domain ought to work. Presuming, of course, that someone else hasn't already backordered it! In that case you have no choice but to reinstate it with Namecheap or lose it.

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Thought I'd add how I resolved the problem:

I didn't quite understand this (Namecheap were, IMO, deliberately evasive on the issue) but you still own a .io domain during the pendingDelete phase, even if it is in the registrar's control! You therefore have the right to transfer the domain from the registrar's control to your own control, which is free. In my case, Namecheap refused to give me the transfer AuthCode (a.k.a EPP), but I was able to "reset the owner's password" through nic.io (I'm not sure exactly what that meant, but it worked). The domain was now in my control but remember it was still expired, so I just had to pay NIC.io's (reasonable) renewal fee.

So, that's how you can regain control of your expired .io domain, for free, without having to place a back-order. Regarding the DNS issue:

As Michael Hampton explained, NIC.io do not provide DNS hosting (i.e. will not point your domain to an IP address), but will point to authoritative DNS servers of your choice. That is, you'll need to get another company (typically a registrar) to provide DNS hosting, then have NIC.io point to their DNS servers. Cloudflare will do this for free if your setup is simple.

This is all a bit tangly and opaque but hopefully it's useful to someone. Basically, Namecheap's fee for reinstatement is a total rip-off and can be avoided if you do your research! Good luck!

  • I concur on the ripoff. Based on my experience, Namecheap is a borderline scam and staffed by amateurs who will do anything in their power to waste your time and money. I had a similar issue and it took them 6 months to solve a ticket that should have taken 6 minutes. Even the top tier overlords "didn't know how to help" AKA "we wanna milk this a few more months since you are already paying us". – dhaupin Feb 5 '15 at 19:47
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"reset the owner's password" means setting a password on the Owner's contact record - you will need to be able to receive email at the email address set for the owner - as the Owner you can then transfer the domain to your direct control.

If your email address is in the Owner or Admin contact record, you can transfer the domain to you own direct control - http://www.nic.io/faq.xzx#transfer

Once you control the domain directly, you can either renew it with nic.io or you can transfer it to another Registrar of your choice.

If you have any problems, raise a ticket - they're very helpful.

Important points ...

1) when you buy names through a registrar you are also agreeing to their T&Cs - these may be different from the registry, be aware of what you are agreeing to before you buy :)

2) Since May-2015, nic.io DO provide DNS hosting and so can host your DNS for you. They also (alternatively) provide web & mail forwarding services for direct owners, or just the basic/standard (delegated) service - in that respect, you get a similar service to basic registrar services - but they don't offer stuff like web site hosting.

Buying a back-order is not a bad solution, but will cost more.

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