Are You the Master of Your Domain?
Or, Who’s Really in Control of Your Online Business?
by Cathy Wagner
Over the years I have been continually astounded by a shocking trend. Nine out of ten web site owners cannot access control of their own business web sites!
What do I mean by this?
If you had to change to a new hosting company, how would you go about it? Do you have the login information for your domain account? (I can hear many of you going, “Huh?”)
Or, if you want someone new to go in and make a few changes to your web site pages, can you give them FTP access? (Again, “Huh?”)
Facts You Need to Know
Every web site is comprised of two parts:
1. Domain name (i.e. yourname.com)
2. Web Hosting (i.e. the actual web space where you “park” your domain)
You have to sign up and pay for each of these services separately. Even if your host offers domain name registration, it is usually still two separate accounts and you need to have the login information for each.
As I said, your domain name is your web site URL, such as yoursite.com. You must pay for ownership of your domain yearly. It’s not very expensive, but it is very important to know that is must be renewed. If you let your registration lapse, your site will disappear, even if your hosting account is current.
You need to be able to access your domain account to tell the Internet where to look for your site. Your DNS settings inside your domain account identify the host server space where you web site files reside.
This sounds more complicated than it really is. Your host has a machine called a server that stores web site files. The DNS settings tell the Internet exactly which machine houses your files.
When you want to change hosts, you have to change these settings to correspond to the new host’s server. This is not complicated. Every host provides the information you need to do this easily, provided you can login into your domain account.
To maintain control of your business web site, you must be able to login to your domain registration account.
Again, your web host provides the web space where you “park” your domain. They store your web site files (such as graphics, HTML files, etc.) on a machine called a server and then those files become accessible via the Internet.
You need to be able to access your web site files. This is NOT information for designers only. If you want to have complete control of your business, you need this information too.
I’ve already mentioned FTP, which stands for File Transfer Program. It is the software used to transfer files from your computer’s hard to your server space and vice versa. All changes to web sites must be made via FTP and if you don’t have the connection information, you can’t do anything to your site without the person who does.
In order to have complete control of your business web site, you must have, or be able to grant, access to your web site files.
What’s the Big Deal?
Early in my career, I had a host that literally disappeared. A major break down in communication meant that while I had paid for a year’s worth of hosting, I was going to have to settle for only two months instead. My site was down and I had to find another host right away. (To this day I never heard from that host again. I was offline for weeks while I tried everything I could to reach them!)
The point is, I didn’t know how to login to my domain account to change the DNS setting to my new host’s server. I had long since left the host that actually registered it for me. Thank goodness he was kind enough to simply hand over my login information at my request. Thank goodness he was even still in business!
And it’s the same with web site management. I can’t tell you how many of my clients originally started off with another designer who had moved on to other things. Some can’t even get their old designer on the phone anymore! But, when they come to me because they’ve decide to find someone new to work on it, they can’t give me access to their site. In most cases they don’t have any idea what I’m talking about when I ask.
I know that technophobia is a real problem for some people. As soon as someone says something like “HTML” they tune out thinking there’s no way they’ll ever understand what’s being said from that point forward. But your domain and hosting are not something you can just leave to others, they are the backbone of your business web site.
It’s really not complicated. And it’s so important to maintain control of your business web site. You absolutely must have access to your domain registration account AND your web hosting account.
Even if you never use the information yourself, you need to have it. Without access to both of these accounts, your business could end up dead in the water.
About the Author – Cathy Wagner, owner of ONE STOP Internet Business Services,is a writer/author, webmaster, and online business consultant. Her articles and business advice have been published all over the Internet. She personally helps a wide variety of online business people sell their products and services more effectively and she’s earned an excellent reputation as an honest and knowledgeable expert in her field who is truly committed to helping others.
*This article is freely available for reprint provided the resource box is included intact.