By Tamer Tewfik with contributions by Mike Dotterer
We started offering website design and programming to a few select clients a few years ago so when new clients asked us if we could add their videos to their websites, my response was always the same, “Sure we can. We just need to access your hosting so we can update your page files.” Some have no idea what we are talking about and give us their web company’s information to make it happen. That’s usually where the saga ends because nine times out of ten, we never get a call back from the web-company.As we began talking to more businesses about their web-service, we discovered that smaller businesses were having trouble trying to get a request fulfilled from their web-people. We only recently officially added web design and programming to our list of services but in the few years that we have been involved with it we have learned some interesting things. Many website owners do not know where their domain name is registered. Not only do they not know where it is registered, they don’t know who their host is.
Your domain name is the URL or web site address that people type into a browser to go to your site and your host is the company that stores your web-pages on a server offering it publicly to the world wide web for the world to see.
Both your registry and host require login credentials to access your account. These are sometimes different.
Some companies offer both domain name registration and hosting but beware of cheap hosting plans. They’re good for small 5 page sites but as soon as you start using a lot of space or bandwidth as your site gets popular, it cost more than it normally would. Also, cheap hosting companies can have slower backbone connections to the internet resulting in what feels like a delay for your site to load into your browser.
Some web companies are wary to give the usernames and passwords to their client’s hosting or registry because with this information the client can have a third party edit and manage their websites or even download all the files from the server to have them build on another host subsequently losing their business. Now, if a company was prompt and handled a client’s request quickly and professionally, they wouldn’t have to be concerned about losing their business. By refusing to give out the access information to the client’s web-files, they are attempting to keep a stronghold on the client’s business. In some cases, I have heard of web-companies taking down client sites to get a client’s attention or, in rare cases, deleting entire sites as retribution if they get wind that a client is attempting to switch. No joke. We have rescued a few people from a situation where they were being grossly overcharged for simple web updates and felt there was nothing they could do about it. They were trapped. For example, we were able to rescue a recent client’s website and all the content on it, but unfortunately, they needed to change their domain name due to the web company basically holding the domain name hostage. The client had paid the web company to register the domain name, but the web company had “conveniently” registered it under the web company’s name! Bad news. Folks…this is an abusive relationship. Holding someone’s passwords hostage or taking their sites down as a warning in order to keep their business is extortion. We see it differently…
You as the client, have paid for your hosting and for your domain name. You have the right to know the passwords created to develop and maintain your website. You have a right to access it whenever you want. You also have the right as an American citizen to do business with whomever you want at any time you want. If you are not happy, you have the right to move on. WE are not The Masters of Your Domain…YOU are. We simply manage your sites for you. We are the managers…not the owners.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Well, if you are one of those web owners who do not know where your domain name is registered, your hosting is or login information for either, we recommend you call your web or IT people asap and ask for this information. Since you have paid for it, it’s your right to have it and know it. If you are met with resistance for or down-right refused this information, you may need to consider changing who manages your website. Also, make sure your domain name registration information is correct and current. The information listed in the administrative, billing or technical contact records of your domain should be your information. If you have your domain name access information, login to it and check it out. If you don’t have it, or are waiting to hear from your web company now that you’ve requested it, a quick whois look up at a web site at GoDaddy will list the public information on record as to who is the the contact for any web site. Some registrars, such as GoDaddy, offer a popular private proxy type of registration that will only list GoDaddy as the contact information for a domain name, but at least it will point you in the right direction where you can then make a phone call. Here’s a DO-List if you are shopping for a web company:
- Try to register your own domain name. It’s only about $10 a year to register and very easy to do. Create an account at an online registry like GoDaddy and type in some possible names you would like to use to see if they are available. Once you find one, purchase it there and keep you username and password for your records. That’s it.
- If you will leave the registering to your IT people, then make sure to ask that they provide you the name of the company that is registering your domain name and hosting your webpages and all associated account usernames and passwords.
Becoming The Master of Your Domain is not difficult. It takes a bit of organizing and a few phone calls but it is very worth it. Having the option to access your domain and hosting company will allow you to make your changes and updates quickly. Technology is always changing and having a site that can be accessed and updated with cutting edge technology and simple SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is vital as technology moves forward. We will cover SEO in more detail in our next newsletter. Contact us for more information on, or to ask for help becoming the Master of your Domain.