It happens all too often. A potential client wants us to create a new website, but no one at the company is sure where their current website is hosted. They think it’s hosted by the same person who created their website, but he can’t be found and they don’t know where their login information was filed. Or, the company website is hosted on the personal account of a tech savvy person who used to work there, but he quit a few months ago and doesn’t feel obligated to return their phone calls or emails. And then there’s the even bigger issue of the domain name (the URL or address of your website, such as www.mediavinemarketing.com). One new client’s domain was registered by the technical whiz kid of the business owner’s best friend. When the bill for the domain came due, the whiz kid was backpacking in Europe and no one knew that the domain’s registration was going to expire. Lost domain, lost website.
The time to make sure that you are in control of your company’s domain name and website is now.
Let’s start with your domain name. Your website’s fate really depends on whether or not you can “point” your domain name wherever you want. Make sure that you know the name of the domain registrar (such as godaddy.com, 1and1.com) as well as the username and password to the account where it was registered. If you have those items, you at least have control of your main asset (you can always build a new website if you have to). Log in to the account and determine who is listed as the account’s owner and person to contact. If it’s not you, change it. Call the domain registration company for help if you need it. We often see situations where the domain’s registration expires because no one in charge knows that the bill is due or the credit card on file has expired. When the domain registration expires, your domain can be up for grabs and it can be really tough, if not impossible, to get it back once someone else has taken it. And when you lose your domain’s registration, your website can’t be found. It’s like a house with no address.
You may be able to find out where your domain is registered and to whom by using something called the WHOIS lookup. Go to whois.net and type in your domain name. You should be able to at least find out which company is listed as the registrar. If the registration is not listed as “private”, you can also find out the name and even contact information of the person listed as the registrant. In some cases, you can call the registrar and explain the situation and they may help you become the official registrar of your domain if you provide certain paperwork.
Now for your website’s host. Your website’s files have to be “hosted” on someone’s computer server. It could be your own computer server (although we don’t recommend this), or the server of a company that does this all day long (such as godaddy.com or bluehost.com). Like your domain, you need to know the name of the hosting company and the username and password to the account. Log in to the account and see who is on record as the account’s owner as well as the contact person. If it’s not you, change it. Call the hosting company for help if you need it. We’ve seen entire websites get removed because the hosting company couldn’t contact anyone to pay the bill, so they removed the website’s files from their server.
If your website developer at some point gave you FTP and/or cpanel login information, you can give this information to a new website developer who may be able to transfer your site’s file to a new hosting account of your choosing.
If you don’t have the login information for your website’s host and/or domain, it’s time to have a conversation with your website developer. We recommend that YOU control both your domain’s registry as well as the account where your website is hosted. When you have control, you can choose to employ whomever you want to update or create your next website. If you cannot get a hold of your website developer anymore, start with taking control of your domain and go from there. Good luck. And, if you have any questions, please contact us.