Review – Watch My Domains ProBy Lee Hodgson
Domain management is a challenge for anyone with a large number of domain names under their control. Just how do you keep track of which registrars your domains are registered with? Which email addresses are in use as contact addresses? Which name-servers are used by which domains? And perhaps most importantly, when are the names due to expire?
One common method of domain management is to employ a spreadsheet or database and keep track of names that way. But updating everything manually whenever changes occur soon becomes a time-consuming hassle. Mistakes happen, changes go unnoticed, and inevitably the accuracy of such domain database will always be questionable. Of course, if your records aren’t 100% accurate, many problems can occur. In particular, failing to renew domain names before their expiry date can result in their permanent deletion and re-registration by other parties.
Fortunately a product has come along that really promises to take the hassle out of domain management. Watch My Domains Pro (or WMD) is a Windows program that works by analyzing the WHOIS records of all the domain names you provide. Once the analysis is complete, you have an easy-to-view snap-shot of your domain portfolio. The information that is collected and tabulated during the analysis includes:
- IP address
- admin email
- tech email
- billing email
- creation date
- last update date
- expiry date
Here are some uses to which you could put this information:
- Expiry Date – This is probably the single most important information within WHOIS records, as your failure to renew your domain name before the expiry date could result in the immediate deletion of the domain name. WMD will default to highlighting in red all domains within 60 days of renewal, so you can easily see which domains need to be renewed, a really great feature.
Also, you can alter the number of days from 60 to whatever you want. You can also use the expiry date information to quickly see how many of your domains are due for renewal this month, next month etc. – great for financial planning.
- Name-servers – WMD is able to keep track of up to three name-servers attached to each domain name. This allows you to check that domains are using the name-servers you thought they were. You can also effortlessly see if any names only use one name-server, something that’s not recommended if you want to keep your Website running consistently. Also, if you ever move Web host, being able to see which name-servers your names are currently attached to can make the whole transition process much easier, and ensure that no names are left behind in the move.
- IP Address – If a domain name is not set up correctly to point to a valid IP address, WMD will show this as an error. If it is set up, WMD will indicate the IP address to which the domain points. Again, this is useful information if you move Web hosts, or just want to check that your domains are indeed assigned to the IP addresses you thought they were.
- Contact emails – WMD will list admin email, tech email, and billing email addresses. It also has a nifty feature called "Tagged Emails" which allows you to specify a list of "known" email addresses. Any contact emails that show up within domain records, and which have not been previously tagged by you will be highlighted in red. This is a great feature — keeping track of contact emails is a vital part of good domain management. Many a domain name has been lost because the admin email was an address that was no longer valid, or no longer checked regularly by the domain name owner.
Once you have all this information, you can easily sort the domain names using any of the fields listed above. In addition, it’s easy to export the information as a comma separated text file or Access-compatible database file. The only restriction on the information exported is that the email addresses are not exported during the process unless they are "tagged emails". This ensures the product is not used to harvest email addresses from the WHOIS records for the purposes of spamming — as such, it’s a restriction which should be applauded. If you really need an unrestricted version, you need to look at Watch My Domains ISP.
WMD currently works with .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .uk, .au, and .nu domains, and other extensions are planned in the future. The cost is $37, which includes a year of free software updates.
Watch My Domains Pro is a Winner!
If you’ve ever felt that your domain portfolio takes too much time to manage, or you’re in danger of forgetting to renew names, then Watch My Domains Pro is the product you’ve been waiting for. Whether your names are all with one registrar, or spread around twenty different registrars, you will find this product a god-send which will pay for itself in no time at all.