Do You Own Your Domain?
Posted by Bryan
We’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating: Own your domain names.
If you let your web designer register your domain name, she essentially owns it. She has total control including what website it points to, who administers it, and whether or not it gets renewed. More importantly, if the designer or their company goes out of business, or you have a falling out, you’ve lost control of your website. Yes, maybe you can bring legal action, but it’s easier to do it correctly from the beginning – or fix it now.
We run into this problem most often when redoing websites originally created by a freelancer or someone’s friend’s kid who took a web design class in school. We usually start from scratch, so we don’t need any information about design or content, but without access to the registration, we can’t make the domain name go to the new site.
Your domain name is registered with a Domain Name Registrar, such as Go Daddy or Network Solutions. If you need a new registrar, we like Namecheap.com. The domain name registration is separate from the hosting of your website, although many hosting companies also offer domain registration. It costs around $11 a year to register a dot com domain.
If you’re not sure who registered your domain, you can check it out with a “who is lookup.” The contact information is listed for both the "Registrant" fields and the "Administrator" fields, all of it, especially any email addresses, should be yours. If you see something like "Domains by Proxy" listed as the registrant, more than likely the domain has a private listing which protects your privacy by not displaying your contact information.
If this is not the case, it’s easy to fix assuming the person listed as registrant will help. Most Domain Name Registrars allow you to create an account for free. Then you ask your designer to “push” the domain or transfer the ownership to your new account. The settings should stay intact during the switch so there will be no interruption in your site’s up time. When it’s time to renew, you will get an email reminding you. By the way, it’s better for search engine performance to register a domain for several years ahead.
Take the time to check it out today.