If you as a business owner does not have the necessary information about your website you could risk serious downtime. Worse yet, you could experience a total loss of data. In this article, we’re going to share with you which information is critical for you to have saved for your website. Also, don’t be concerned about knowing how to handle all of the technical details. As long as you take ownership and have access to this important information, it will save you time and money in the long run, even if you plan to hire someone to assist you such as a web design company.
Owning Your Domain
By far the most important thing you own in regards to your website is your domain. Your domain is the address where your website is located and typically ends with a “.com” or “.net”. Without your domain, your business has no address for potential customers to find you. The following is just one of many horror stories we’ve experienced with past clients.
We have a client that runs a successful notary services business for the real estate industry. They rely heavily on their website and back-end portal so their team of notaries can submit and manage documents for real estate transactions. The problem they ran into is that their domain expired causing not only their website to go down but also all of their domain-based email accounts too. And it gets worse. Apparently, the domain was registered years ago by a 3rd party that no longer works with the company and nobody knows how to reach them.
Luckily they had archives of their website and we were able to restore it on a temporary domain that was almost identical to their lost domain. Another lucky thing was that they were eventually able to track down the owner of the domain and get it renewed before it went back out for resale. In this case, our client learned a very valuable lesson. Until we were able to move everything back to their original domain, they lost potential organic traffic and clients because the old indexed pages were no longer accessible.
This story could have been worse. They could have lost their domain entirely, which would have forced them to update their entire brand including logo, business cards, email accounts and website with the new domain. This would have cost them literally thousands of dollars.
To avoid this horror story happening to your business, we recommend the following:
- Make sure that your domain is registered to an account that you own. You can always give access to a staff member or webmaster for management, but you should retain full ownership of the domain.
- Ensure that the administrative contact information is current and correct. We’ve also seen this happen where a domain is about to expire but because the domain’s administrative contact information was not correct, the business owner didn’t get notified and the domain expired causing the website and email accounts to go down.
- If your domain is owned by a 3rd party work with the to transfer it into a registrar account that you own. This is a very simply process to complete and the wait time to complete a transfer should take no more than 5-7 business days.
- Renew your domain for as many years as possible by your domain registration company (NameCheap, GoDaddy, etc). Many services allow you to renew your domain for up to 10 years. Not only does this ensure you don’t have to worry your website expiring because of an expired payment method, but it also looks better for your website in the search engines.
- If you do not know who is the current owner of your domain, you can use this tool called “whois” that displays the contact information for your domain along with other important details. Click here to use the tool we recommend. Simply enter in your website address and submit. You’ll then see all the details about your domain such as the admin contact and when the domain expires.
Where Is Your Website Hosted?
Following your domain, where your website and email are hosted is the next most important thing to know as a business owner. It used to be that the most common setup was to have your website and email hosted on the same account. This might still be tried for your situation but more and more businesses are going with a more stable 3rd party email solution outside of their website hosting.
Web hosting refers to the service that you’re using to host the source code and database for your website. Your domain points to your web hosting IP address and that server that is hosting your website returns the requested files to the browser of the user visiting your website. If the server hosting your website crashes, your website goes down.
Our first recommendation for you is to own your hosting account where your website is hosted. This will give you complete control over your website. As with your domain, you can usually assign other users to have access to your account for management such as an internal staff member or your webmaster. By being the owner of your hosting account, you can limit your risk of extended downtime in the event that the person manages your website is unreachable.
Sometimes your development company will recommend that you host your website using their own hosting services. We do not have a problem with this as long as you have a few conditions met. First, make sure you’re not overpaying for hosting. Check around the web and see what current hosting rates are and what is included. If the pricing is fair, the next thing is to make sure that they send you a backup copy of your website. That way if something happens with your developer and they can’t fix your website if it goes down, you can easily migrate to another web hosting provider and quickly bring your website back online.
Knowing where your website is hosted can sometimes be as simple as checking the DNS settings inside your domain’s admin account. Also, be sure to check where your email accounts are hosted if you have them setup using your domain. For example, if you’re using an email account such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Use caution when making DNS changes on your domain. You might accidentally disable your email accounts when trying to fix a website issue. And don’t worry about knowing how to do all of this. Just you having all of your accounts accessible and under your control