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Own Your Domain

It’s all too easy to let an expert set up your domain name, contract with a hosting company for your website and handle the routine of maintaining everything. But when one of those providers you trusted long ago is no longer in the picture, you can lose more than your identity.

Let’s make this crystal clear at the start: Your domain is your identity, and it likely leads to the electronic places where your company does business. You should control it – not your IT company or your marketing company.

There are 3 types of contact associated with a domain name:

  1. Registrant – that should always be the business/Company,
  2. Admin – the individual responsible for administering/managing the domain (typically the webmaster or Agency and
  3. Technical – that should be the individual responsible for the behind-the-scenes work, possibly the IT department or the marketing agency.

Only the Registrant can change all three names including the expiration notifications.

I usually use the Client as the Registrant with myself, the IT or marketing company as the other two. That allows me to manage name servers, redirects, etc., without involving you.

When you and your IT or marketing companies prepare all the paperwork and set up your website’s back end, ensure that you are listed as the Registrant with the appropriate contact information for the Admin and Technical contacts. Sometimes, these may be your IT department or marketing company to allow them access to make necessary changes.

We’ve had to pick up the pieces too many times when doing administrative work on clients’ websites. In many cases, domain issues also involve website hosting companies, and they are sensitive to security needs because a domain name is such a critical identity factor. However, we wind up solving the problem; everyone involved needs to remember that the web hosting company and the organization that keeps domain records are required to protect their clients. Their clients are the people or organizations they have on record as the entities entitled to access domains and website backends.

A couple of recent client engagements illustrate the nature of the problem when you don’t have access to information for your domain.

In one case, a family member set up the domain account for our Client and took care of everything – until that person was no longer a family member. We needed to communicate with that person and then find all the information required to transfer the ownership to our Client.

In the other case, we were able to find the web designer for our Client’s website to get the access and ownership information. We took ownership of the domain through GoDaddy, reset all the access information, and then transferred ownership of the domain to our Client.

Getting the correct information about domain ownership always takes a bit of investigation. Tracing email addresses is where we usually start, but we can go down a lot of blind alleys or open a lot of doors before we get to the right place. For us, it’s a challenge. For you, it’s an avoidable waste of time and money.

Therefore, we suggest you take these steps now.

  1. If you don’t have ownership rights to your domain and web hosting agreements, get them now. Work with your IT and marketing companies to get that information and keep it in a safe place.
  2. If you know you own your domain and web hosting arrangements, get all the access information from the companies who set it up. Doing this while you have good relations with them is always a good idea.
  3. Know when your domain name and hosting agreements expire, and make sure plans are in place to renew them in plenty of time. If there are access problems, it’s easier to solve them without the duress of a deadline.

If you have questions about your domain ownership and web hosting access, call us – 973433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs. The more lead time we have to resolve issues, the safer your business will be.