I don't want to advertise Easter Island vacations
March 6, 2006 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Let's say someone accidentally let their domain name expire, and then quickly paid to renew it, how long would it generally take for everything to come back up? And where did the e-mail go in the mean time?

The domain registration company is not the same company as the one where the site is hosted, but it remembered the DNS it was on. My payment came through alright, but I didn't get their info e-mail because I gave them a fake address (by accident). I already put in a support ticket with the company that hosts my files to ask them about it, but they tend to take a while, and I don't have a while! (My orchestra website is hosted on the same domain and it's concert season!!)
I assume all the files are still there (right???) but what happens to e-mail that was sent to that domain in the time it was gone?

Of course, this is all purely hypothetical, and I'm asking for a friend of a friend who doesn't have internet access (I would never be so stupid to set the e-mail address for notification of expiry to a non-existent address!)
posted by easternblot to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Most email will queue and wait around looking for the destination server for 5 days before it gives up and admits that it can't find it, but the exact amount of time was set by the outgoing SMTP server in quesiton, so it could be more or less.

I lost a POP server for 3 days once and did not miss any email at all.
posted by tiamat at 12:44 PM on March 6, 2006

I run a website, and due to no fault of my own an astoundingly dumb bit of shortsightedness, I let my domain name expire earlier this year; once I rectified the situation, it took less than 12 hours for it to get up and running again. I don't know exactly what happens to the emails, I don't usually get emails from my site, but I'd assume they'd probably bounce.
posted by pdb at 12:45 PM on March 6, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, less than 12 hours is somewhat okay... Especially if the e-mail stays around for longer.
posted by easternblot at 1:08 PM on March 6, 2006

Best answer: It should actually take far less than 12 hours, especially if you're FOAF is using a more modern domain host. DNS propogation now only takes around 20 minutes for the main root servers, and it trickles down incredibly quickly. It used to take up to 72 hours. Essentially, the domain registrar is pointing the domain name back to the nameservers you'd specified, and away from their "this person is a deadbeat who hasn't paid us" page.

The host won't even notice there's a problem, and they won't particularly care. But the email will be dependent on the users outgoing servers to continue resending, and five days is the norm, generally speaking.
posted by disillusioned at 1:26 PM on March 6, 2006

The e-mails bounce immediately with an invalid recipient message.

The sending servers look for the domain, get told it doesn't exist, and don't bother check back since they got an authoritative 'no such domain' response from the DNS system.

Queueing only occurs when the DNS says the domain should exist, but the server isn't reachable.
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:30 PM on March 6, 2006

Just out of curiosity, are there laws prohibiting registration companies from buying up recently expired the second that they become available? I know that if I lost my domain I'd pay a pretty penny to get it back (too many people use only that email address). Are there anti-extortion laws, or soemthing?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 1:41 PM on March 6, 2006

Best answer: I heard back from the support people:
"Once your domain name is renewed it will only take 1-2 hours for your website to come back up and online. In fact, your site is fully up and online for me."

Not yet for me, but I'll wait.
posted by easternblot at 1:59 PM on March 6, 2006

Best answer: Actually, I Love Tacos is probably incorrect about your e-mails, since most registrars don't actually delete a domain when the registration expires; instead, they point it (as has been said earlier) at a 'this person hasn't paid us'-type page. So the domain does still exist, and therefore -- as has, again, been said already -- people's e-mail servers will keep retrying for up to about five days. So you should get all your mail as soon as the DNS change propagates.

Speaking of that, though, again I have to disagree slightly with someone, this time disillusioned. Although DNS propagation is, indeed, fast, anyone who looked up the domain and was pointed to the 'deadbeat' page will probably have cached the IP address, so until their DNS server reloads the data -- which could be up to a couple of days -- they'll still get the old page, and not your actual site.

I speak, incidentally, from experience; I let a domain expire because I didn't want it anymore, rethought the matter, renewed the domain, and it was a couple of days before things were completely back to normal.
posted by littleme at 1:59 PM on March 6, 2006

If anybody stumbles upon this at a later time, littleme's answer is NOT best. It's incredibly flawed, and shows a total lack of understanding at how SMTP and DNS are both implemented.

The only correct point that littleme made was that some people might have a cached DNS result.

The fact remains, if your domain expires, a portion of your e-mail WILL bounce. The "deadbeat" page has no relationship, whatsoever, to SMTP.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:11 PM on March 6, 2006

The fact remains, if your domain expires, a portion of your e-mail WILL bounce. The "deadbeat" page has no relationship, whatsoever, to SMTP.
I Love Tacos has the right idea here. When the domain registrar points the domain to their "deadbeat" page, it is also extremely likely to point the e-mail part (the MX record) to their server as well. So, if someone tried to send you e-mail during that period, it would be sent along to that server, not yours. What happens from their depends entirely on whether or not there's an e-mail server running on that machine. If there is, the likely result is an immediate bounce; if not, it'll hover in the netherworld for a while.
posted by Godbert at 5:49 PM on March 6, 2006

Thanks, I Love Tacos, for your opinion. Indeed, the 'deadbeat' page has no relationship to SMTP -- I didn't say it does. The point I was making (or trying to make) is that the domain still exists, and therefore DNS servers will not receive a "no such domain" response, as you said in your original message. Instead, since there's likely to be no MX record set, the sender's mailserver will continue to look for one for around five days before bouncing the message back to the sender.

I agree when you say that "the fact remains, if your domain expires, a portion of your e-mail WILL bounce." But most registrars don't actually expire the domain immediately your registration period runs out -- so as long as you retrieve it rapidly you'll be fine.
posted by littleme at 12:29 PM on March 8, 2006

Littleme, I should have included the standard YMMV, as will everyone on the internets. While I'd love the perfect balance between cached DNS records and quickly resolved alterations to those records, it sometimes takes a bit longer than we'd all love.

I think within the same browsing session or some such is a silly expectation, but I'd be comfortable pegging things at less than 5 hours.
posted by disillusioned at 5:41 AM on March 15, 2006

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