Have you covered your (online) assets?
You might think you’re simplifying things by consolidation, but you really want some separation of concerns when it comes to ownership and payment of fees related to your online presence. Let’s talk specifics:
- Don’t register your domain through your web host
- Don’t have your web developer host your website
- Ensure your domain and hosting account are in your name, not your web developer’s
Don’t Register Your Domain Name Through Your Web Host
It might seem easiest to purchase a domain name through your web hosting company as you sign up, or to consolidate things if they were originally separate.
It’s better to have them separate.
Your domain name is the key to your online home. It’s the way you’re found. Losing control of your domain means your website and your email are inaccessible. Losing your domain name means you instantly lose whatever work you’ve put into search engine optimization over the years.
Let’s say your web hosting company goes out of business, or has a severe outage, or changes their pricing model with a huge fee hike you don’t want to pay.
If your domain registrar is separate from your hosting company, you set up your new website, change your domain to point to the new site, and you’re set to go, with no dependency on your previous host.
On the other hand if your old web host controls your domain name… well… you don’t do anything until they do it for you. If they’ve gone out of business (as happened last year to one of my clients), you’re totally out of luck.
Don’t Have Your Web Developer Host Your Website
Sometimes a web developer also offers hosting for their clients, which both means additional revenue for the web developer along with simplicity for the clients. However, keep in mind that your web host is a crucial piece of your online presence. You want a web hosting company with powerful hardware, 24×7 support and monitoring staff, and plenty of resources to keep things online and secure.
Your web developer probably isn’t all those things.
Additionally, consider what happens if your web developer takes a vacation, wins the lottery, or you end up in a dispute over services. We all hope to maintain good relationships, but sometimes business deals go bad. If your developer has your site held hostage, that’s a losing proposition.
Instead, pay your developer for his development skill, and use a solid web hosting company (I like, and have business relationships with, WP Engine and SiteGround) so that you get the best hosting possible without being tied to an individual who nearly certainly has less resources for ongoing support than a major web host.
Ensure Your Domain and Hosting Are In Your Name
Would you let your realtor sign all the closing paperwork on your house? Of course not! So why would you let your web developer register your domain or hosting accounts in their name?
Ensure that all of your accounts are in your name. You’re paying, you’re the owner, and you’re the one who will be able to make changes in the future. You need to own your domain name.
As noted above, even the friendliest of relationships can sometimes fade away. Having your assets in your own name ensures that you have flexibility regardless of circumstances.
How To Make Things Better
So… let’s say your current setup doesn’t meet these best practices. Now’s a great time to make some changes so you’re more secure in the future. If the changes are simply a case of needing to get things into your own name, go ahead and work with your developer to ensure accounts are truly yours.
If your domain is currently registered with your web host, you can move the domain registration to an independent company. I like Namecheap.
Check out the Namecheap transfer sale and help ensure your digital house is in order. Namecheap is a partner – if you sign up for their services, I get a small commission. Win-win.
Regardless of your companies of choice, the best time to make these changes is when everything is stable.