Domain auto-renew didn't do it's job, and now my websites and email are down


So I always used to manually renew my domain names, but I decided that I would give dreamhost’s auto-renew feature a try. I enabled it about two weeks before the domains were going to expire.

As of today, both of my domains are showing a bunch of advertising, which is even more insulting that just having them be blank, and are definitely not pointing to my websites.

This also means that any email that is being sent to any of my email addresses at those domains, is now going into some trash pile somewhere, instead of my inbox, since the domain is no longer routing email properly to my hosting. And this is all because the auto-renewal feature seems to be completely and utterly broken.

In my dreamhost panel, it says the domains were renewed, and now expire in 2013. They are all properly configured. There is even two charges to my account for the domain renewals. So why the hell are they not working?

You might notice, I am EXTREMELY upset. The website downtime sucks, but the fact that I am currently loosing emails because of this is INFURIATING! I am paying for this service, and so far as I can tell, I have not done anything wrong. There is no excuse why I should have to deal with this shit.

I submitted a support ticket two hours ago, as well as sending a message to the @DreamHostCare twitter account, but have yet to see any response. And if history has anything to say about it, I probably wont see a response for several days.



It doesn’t happen that fast, you can’t lose a domain overnight. When was your domain up for renewal? Did you ever receive a confirmation that it was renewed? Or the Followup Whois registry info that everyone gets? Even after you miss a renewal deadline its 30 days of busted website (or generic registrar holding page) before you lose it… then it can take up to 6 months for it to be on the open domain marker again…

Whose advertising is it, what domains? Did you let this go a long time before you noticed your content was gone?

Are you sure you haven’t been hacked? Are your files still showing when you FTP to your server?


Something changed, because that did used to be correct. However, when I helped over in this thread the other day, it was interesting because my local nameserver (Comcast’s) would no longer resolved the domain just hours after expiration. If I forced however it would resolve. I tried half a dozen more nameservers and only a couple of them resolved the domain name, the others responded non-existent domain.


Hi artgeek,

The renewal was for yesterday, the 19th. I did not receive a confirmation email that it was renewed, but I DID receive the whois registry email. My dreamhost control panel also indicates that it has been renewed, and I WAS billed for it.

As far as the advertising, I see mentions of “”, which I am not sure, but might be something to do with the company that dreamhost registers domains though? My website was fine last night, and I noticed that the domain was pointing to the wrong location this morning.

I am absolutely positive that I was not hacked, and that this is a problem with dreamhost’s auto-renewal feature. My files are all fine.

A whois lookup indicates the following:
Note: This Domain Name has expired. In this status the domain name
is inactive. This domain name will be activated once it is renewed.
The Owner of this domain name can renew this domain name from their control panel.
If this domain name is not renewed by 28-Aug-2012, it will be permanently

Which looks to me like even though I enabled auto-renew well in advance, I don’t think dreamhost actually renewed it with the registrar properly.
Six hours now since I opened my support ticket. What the hell are they doing over at dreamhost?! This would be fine if I forgot my password or something, but they botched my website and I can’t get in contact with them at all. This is outright insane!


I’m not sure who your local ISP is or what their nameservers do in the case of a non-existent domain. My local ISP has a “domain helper” that substitutes a search page (with advertising) instead of a 404 in the case of non-existent domain.

For some of the TLD’s dreamhost is a sub-registrar, for others (.com, .net, etc) they actually are the registrar, so it depends on your domains TLD as to whether dreamhost acted alone or is in fact coordinating with another registrar.

In any case, I have my domains all set to auto renew, but I don’t typically ever wait for that to kick in, I usually renew them manually a month early.


My ISP does not intercept any error pages or non-existent domains.

The domains in question are both .name TLD

Strangely, the page that is shown has a “renew this domain” message at the top, that goes to a login box at I have no idea how to log into that though, nor do I want to know, or should I need to know.

If you go to, you will notice that the copyright message says “”, however, if you play with the subdomain, for example, using, the copyright changes. This is why I think it is a service that dreamhost uses to register the domains.


agreed, googling “” you get the idea quickly they are registrar and/or middleman for some TLD’s

Did you set the “OMG people are dying” level of priority on your support ticket?


Yep, I set that priority. Still no replies though, its really not giving me any confidence in their support abilities.


Some days they seem to be too busy making dreamhtoast.

Seriously, it seems like there are certain areas Dreamhost just doesn’t care if they improve, there are other places they where they exceed expectations.

What’s truly shocking to me is that they don’t better leverage this forum as a support tool and customer service tool. A properly run community can decrease support costs and make customer satisfaction soar, but for that to happen more than one person from the company has to be paying attention to the forum.

Don’t know what else to say about your issue, it seems you are at the mercy of the support portal to get your status off “renewal hold”


Well, I have been with Dreamhost for 6 years now, and while there has been trouble in the past, it has always been fairly minor bumps. However, I have never had to contact support for anything major or time sensitive. I have heard many rumblings over the years that Dreamhost’s support was pretty abysmal, and maybe I should have heeded the warnings. It is appalling to me that their systems could screw up so bad as to completely nuke two of my websites and multiple email accounts, but the fact that I have opened a support ticket, messaged four different twitter accounts, posted on their official forum and messaged their facebook account, and it is now going on 8 hours without a response, is inexcusable and extremely frustrating. Its made worse that there is no live support and no phone number to call. It really does feel like they are ignoring me, and that they don’t really care.

Maybe I should be reconsidering whether I want to keep hosting with a company that would treat their customers like this.


LC, I really feelel for your problem/issue.
Sorry I can not be of any help, I have been also with DH for 6+ years and thank “God” until now no major issues.
Yes, I do read the forum, 3-5 times a week, most times I think it is just an un-pro-newbie-idiot-or whatever that has never heard of Google or internet/forum search.

I think, what you are saying, is UNEXCEPTABLE, if you are not one of the above.

Maybe DH support is silent because they have NO IDEA what happened yet.

DH is not perfect and for support it also ___ I THINK ___ depends whom you get.

Sorry not very helpfull, but … (Andrew, help this guy/lady)


I finally got a reply, from their Facebook page, of all places. Whoever is running that account says they are going to see what they can do to rush the issue along, so we will see what happens in the next few hours. I really hope this doesn’t run into the weekend.


I just got two emails indicating “Your renewal of XXXXXX for 1 year has been processed.”, looks like some progress is being made. Still no further communication from DreamHost staff though, they really need to work on the whole communication thing, and keep the customer updated on what is going on.


How odd. I did the same thing and a similar result happened. That is to say, normally I renew my domains manually, but once (two years ago), just to see what would happen, I left one of my domains on auto-renew … and it didn’t (at least, not on the correct day). It was a .com domain, by the way.

An email arrived three weeks beforehand, another email two weeks beforehand, and yet another email one week beforehand, saying

[quote]Currently you have told us you would like us to auto-renew this domain.
If you do nothing, it will be renewed in [3 … 2 … 1] week[s] and your account
will be billed for another year.[/quote]
which gave a nice warm feeling. But on the big day, nothing happened. I knew about the grace period, so I waited until the next day before sending in a support ticket. The reply was not 100% reassuring because it didn’t give any indication of what had gone wrong or indeed if anything had gone wrong at all, but I let it pass. Maybe I should have kicked up more of a fuss and then maybe you wouldn’t have had this problem now.

Thank you for contacting Technical Support here at DreamHost. I will be
more than happy to help you.
Looking into your account, I do see that your domain [] was
set to expire on [yesterday]. You are given a grace period of 30 days to
renew an expired domain before it goes into redemption. Rest assure[d], our
system should automatically renew your domain sometime today or tomorrow.
If you notice your domain hasn’t renewed by Friday evening, I would
contact us again so we can further investigate.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Have a great night,


So everything appears to be sorted out as of this morning. Apparently there was a bug in DreamHost’s code that communicates between them and the domain registration company, which explains why all of their systems claimed the domains were renewed, when they actually were not.

I can understand a bug cropping up in their system, since I am using the less popular .name TLD, it shouldn’t happen, but I can understand it. But what I can’t wrap my head around, and I am still upset about, is that it took over 9 hours before I got a response out of someone, and it was from a message I sent to their Facebook page. If I had not have sent that message, who knows how much longer it would have taken for my support ticket to get looked at.

Bugs happen, but slow support in critical situations is DreamHost’s fault, and they need to fix it.


I have the same problem with my domain “”, which I have had for years. I paid for the renewal, it went through okay, and DH Web panel still shows 1+ years remaining. But some foul scum of a cybersquatter has replaced the site with ads.

This is really disappointing and I’m certainly glad it isn’t my primary domain for e-mail. I have submitted a support request (user: equin0x80) as urgent.


This happened to me too and with a really important domain I own. I had it set to auto-renew and got the supporting emails. in the panel i saw it was renewed and assumed all was ok. i have it redirected to another domain of mine but i get business through the domain name. i decided to check it and it was going to a placeholder site. make a long story short, Dreamhost said they had a problem with a provider where domains were not actually renewed even if they showed they were. i was also charged the renewal fee! so now the domain is lost to this other company. Dreamhost said it was their fault but they will not compensate me for it, other than a $50 credit.

any advice?