Do You Have the Key to Your Website Domain?
Imagine constructing a new building for your business and hosting an open house for everyone to see it. Then, after holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony and inviting your guests for a tour, you cannot get inside. No one knows who has the key to the front door.
That’s what happens when we construct a new website and the client does not know where to find the username and password for their domain hosting account. Getting access to the domain and launching the new site can take days to unravel.
To make any digital product work on the internet, you need a registered domain name that sits on a hosting server. It’s like needing a home address to get your mail delivered to your house.
Unfortunately, people sometimes don’t realize the importance of securing their hosting account information when registering a domain name. They forget or misplace the credentials (username and password).
The reasons why this happens vary. Too often, we hear about former employees (or, bless their hearts, interns) registering the domain and forgetting to tell anyone where to find the credentials before leaving the company. One of our new clients turned over control of his domain to his previous marketing company – who wanted a substantial fee to give it up. And once (true story) a client's domain information went to the grave with their digital marketing person who passed away and did not record it anywhere.
Access to your domain hosting account is critical because it contains your Domain Naming System (DNS) records. In simple terms, it's an electronic record that links your domain name to the specific server that hosts your website and "points" anyone searching for your domain to that server. When a user types in your domain name or email address, the DNS directs it to the appropriate route on the internet.
Your domain and its access authority should be treated as critical property – with the same safeguards as your company bank account and federal identification number. And here is why:
You Need to Protect Your Brand Security
Control of your domain protects your brand and helps prevent bad actors from misrepresenting your business or possibly scamming the public on the internet. You should constantly review your domain brand, keep it current and consider investing in domains with similar names. There are nefarious people out there who look for popular domains (such as yours) and leverage them by simply adding an “s” or a .net suffix.
You Know When to Renew It
By managing your domain with a reputable host, you will be notified when it is time to renew it. Competitors and criminal elements are known to buy expired domains and set up a website to conduct digital business (legal and illegal) under your flag. A few notorious companies like to grab expired domains and demand a handsome ransom to release control back to you.
You Can Take Advantage of Hosting Options
There are several reliable domain hosting companies out there – such as Google Domains, Network Solutions, HostGator and GoDaddy. We have a partnership with a local (yet international) company, HostGo. They provide updates on your domain products and let you know when it is time to renew. The pricing is relatively competitive - although sometimes you can find a multi-year deal. Be careful, though. There is no such thing as a free domain name. We also recommend not signing up for domain hosting contracts beyond two years.
Your Domain is More Portable
Once you shop around for the best fit, price and tech support, you can more easily transfer your domain to a new host if you have the key. Moving your domain from one hosting company to another usually takes a day or so.
You Get Notified of a Problem
If you are in full command of your domain name on an account with a reputable host, you will be notified when hackers attempt to disrupt your digital name or if there are broken links on your website. These hosting companies also can provide you software options (for a little more money) to help protect your digital address from outside intruders.
You Can Recover From a Bad Website Experience
If you do not own nor control your domain, you could get stuck if your website or email hosting company goes out of business. You could not access the content of your website nor manage your email. You would have to hire another company to manually access the site, move around files and overhaul your website. This requires someone with lots of IT experience and expertise - and their fees can be quite costly.
You Make the Launch of a New Website Much Easier
If you wish to change website providers and email hosting companies, you need your domain credentials to direct your unique domain name to their servers. When we build new websites for clients, we ask for access to their domain to point it toward our Amazon Worldwide Servers where we host them.
So, before you begin considering a new website project, dig around your office to see if you know where and how to fetch your domain hosting account credentials. Without them, your project could be significantly delayed or could be more expensive than you planned.
Clever Dogs Media is a digital marketing agency that focuses on website development and content.