This post is the result of a recent encounter with an area business. The company has a number of existing websites, each with it’s own domain name. Long story short, these names and the associated websites were set up by a former employee. When this person left the company, the access information for the domain and web hosting accounts went too. Trying to get that access back has proven to be a challenge.
Business owners need to understand that the domain name is the most critical part of the website system. It’s crucial that the name(s) be registered to the owner of the company and that he or she can, and knows how to, access the domain hosting account at any time. Losing access to this is like losing the key to your front door. Worse, that door could be made to open into someone else’s business or the most objectionable content you can imagine. Others could even receive your email and reply to your customers!
For those that don’t quite understand the relationship between the domain name and the website, it works like this; Your website is on a server somewhere in the world. This server has an address, referred to as an IP Address, like 126.96.36.199. This address will change if you relocate the website, say because of poor service or you outgrew the server. The domain name (yourcompany.com) gives your customers a stable easy-to-remember address while allowing you to change the associated IP address at any time. In truth things are a bit more complicated than this behind the scenes, but that is essentially the purpose of the domain name.
Therefor, the importance of the business owner having ultimate control over the business’ domain name cannot be understated. The website itself could disappear completely, but if you have control of the name, you can always rebuild and get back into business. Without control you are left with with few options and a very helpless feeling. Follow these simple rules and you can avoid the nightmare that is losing control of your on-line identity.
- Be sure that the most senior member possible of the business or organization is listed as the Registrant with correct name, address, and contact information. This is the official legal owner of the name. The other roles, administrator, technical and billing may be assigned to the proper personnel. Many registrars even allow you to appoint someone you trust to have the ability to pay for renewals or maintain the proper name server settings.
- Keep the domain hosting account located at the Registrar (Network Solutions, GoDaddy, etc..) login information in a safe place. Treat it like you would for on-line banking, government agency pages or your Facebook account. Yes, it’s that important.
- Never use an email containing the domain name in the account contact info. If there is a problem with the name, there will be a problem with the email. Use an ISP provided address, such as @charter.net, or a free webmail address, such as @gmail.com.
- Log into the account at least once a year to make sure you can get in and that the postal address and contact information is correct and up-to-date.
That’s about it. A business or organization’s domain name is the gateway to your entire on-line presence, so be sure to take care of it like any other valuable asset and you’ll avoid some serious headaches.