Many business owners struggle to stay on top of some of the more technical aspects of managing their website services.
In particular, domain names and web hosting are two areas where there’s a lot of confusion around ownership and management. If you don’t own your domain name, for example, the current owner can do whatever they want with it. And that’s a HUGE risk to your business.
How does this even happen?
Anyone can register a domain name or set up a web hosting account, and it’s up to them whether they put your business down as the owner. Sometimes these services are set up through:
- a friend who doesn’t really know what they’re doing
- a company that went bust
- a company that you no longer want to work with
- another contact who you can’t get in touch with.
While the domain name industry is regulated, and all .AU domains need to be manually approved by auDA, the governing body, before they’re registered, it’s not particularly difficult to register any domain you wish. In fact, we’ve registered thousands of domains for our clients over the years, but only had the registration rejected/queried a couple of times.
As for web hosting, there’s really no regulation at all. You can go to any hosting provider now, set up an account under any name, and off you go. All you need to do is point the relevant domain name to the hosting provider’s system, and you’re off and running. This means if your domain name isn’t registered under your name, the owner can basically point it to their own website if they want to.
The other issue here is that if you don’t have the login details for your domain name or web hosting accounts, and can’t get them from your provider, in many cases there’s literally no recourse. For example, if you were hosting your website with one company and wanted to change to a new one, if your name isn’t on the account then you’re out of luck.
Is it common though?
Unfortunately, the above scenarios happens quite often. We recently started working with a new client, and part of the initial project was to consolidate their domain names, web hosting accounts, and email services, under the one roof.
After looking into their setup, we found the following problems:
- Their domain name was actually registered under the name of their original web developer.
- Their web hosting account was set up by their original web developer, but because of the way he’d set it up, it wasn’t possible to provide our client with any login details without giving us access to ALL of the web hosting accounts that the other developer manages.
- These services were set up through two different providers, which isn’t necessarily “wrong”, but it does make management more difficult.
- The original web developer no longer works in the industry, so they’re difficult to get a hold of.
In the end, our new client had to pay $99 to change the domain ownership, and we invested several hours of time (at a cost, of course) to help sort everything out. It chewed up a lot of their time as well, but now they own all of their services.
What’s the solution?
Well, at the end of the day, someone has to set up and manage these services. That could be you, but usually it’s best to find a reputable local provider who has been established for a long time and ask them to confirm (before signing up):
- Who will “own” the domain name? (Ensure they can show you ownership after it’s registered.)
- Will you have login details for your domain name and web hosting account(s)? (If not, don’t use the company!)
- Will you be free to move your services elsewhere at any time, once you’ve paid for them?
If your domain name is already registered, you can check your ownership at the links below. You need to check the “Registrant” name (it should be someone in your business), and the email address should also be someone in your business that you trust, if not yourself. This is vital to ensure that if you ever want to transfer your domain to a new provider, you can retrieve the domain password. Contact your domain registrar (or web developer) if you need to update the information.
We can help you sort out your domain and web hosting ownership, or point you in the right direction. Just call us on (07) 3333 2932 or contact us today.