Why You Want Domain Name Registration and Web Hosting at Different Companies

A few years ago I shared the story of my friend Heidi, whose site was suspended when her domain name registration expired.

She reported the problem on Twitter. I shared information with her on how she could fix the “your account has been suspended message” on her website.

I explained the why you want domain name registration and web hosting in your own name, and why you want to make sure you’re using a current email address.

Which is what happened with Heidi, her domain name registrar used an old email address she no longer checked.

Domain name registrars mail renewal notices to the email addresses included in the registration.

But what I didn’t explain was that you should also keep your domain name registration and web hosting at different companies.

Why Turn Down Something That’s Free?

Many web hosts bundle free domain name registration in their hosting plans.

If you’ve been looking for web hosting lately, you may have seen this kind of promotion:

One free domain name registration with our Basic, Ultimate, and Advanced web hosting plans!

Who would you turn away from something that’s free?

Sounds like a good opportunity to save money if you can get a free domain name registration with your web hosting plan.

But, what if I told you that buying that bundled package could mean you lose your domain name?

Web Hosting and Domain Name Registration at Same Company is Not a Good Idea

There are a number of reasons why you want to avoid web hosting and domain name registration at the same company.

First, web hosts have the ability to lock your domain name, which is when a domain name is locked to protect it against any unauthorized changes.

This can happen if the domain name is within 60 days of its initial registration or within 60 days of a previous domain transfer.

Or the domain name may be locked as a safety feature.

While the web host is required to provide a method for you to unlock the domain name, it can take up to five days for that unlock to take place.

If the domain name was registered at a separate company, you could unlock the domain name yourself in a matter of minutes, and not wait for your web host to get around to it.

Second reason for keeping domain registration at a separate company is that you may want a different top level domain.

Perhaps you want .design or .me in your domain name.

Web hosts that offer domain name registration may only have select group of top-level domains, like .org, .com, .info, for you to choose from.

Third reason to avoid having domain name registration and hosting at the same company: you forget to renew your hosting/domain name registration and they both expire on the same day.

If your domain name registration isn’t paid in a timely fashion, you may risk losing it.

I worked with a group a couple years ago, who forgot to pay their domain name registration. They were within one week of losing their name when it was finally paid.

But because their payment was late, they had to pay $180 to their hosting company to reinstate their domain name. Yikes!

If they had paid their domain name registration on time, the cost would have only been $12 (US dollars).

What to Do if You Can’t Pass Up the Free Domain Name Registration

cursor over Security button on digital device

Ok, perhaps you’ve decided the offer is something you don’t want to pass up.

You want that free domain name from your web host.

If that’s the case, I strongly recommend you set up two-factor authentication for security.

Otherwise, you may find yourself in a similar situation that well-known lifestyle blogger, author, and entrepreneur Jordan Reid found herself in, when her site was hacked in early 2017.

Reid did the right thing, keeping web hosting and domain name registration at separate companies.

But she discovered on a weekend that hackers had transferred her domain name out of her name and taken control of her website.

Her only recourse, after her domain name registrar and web host couldn’t help her?

Report the issue to the FBI.

Who helped her recover her domain name.

Reid didn’t get into details on how the hackers took control of her site, but one of her recommendations to avoid what happened to her was to set up two-factor authentication.

Wrapping Up

Your domain name is important to your business, your organization, your brand. Don’t risk losing it.

Make sure your domain name is set up at a different company than your web hosting. I say the same thing about email and web hosting, keep them at separate companies.

If you are looking for help, I’m available get your domain name set up correctly. Feel free to contact me.

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About the Author

Deborah Edwards-Onoro helps small businesses, consultants, nonprofits, and higher ed with creative and distinctive websites. Deborah shares her expertise with web design, user experience, and accessibility on her blog, social media, and at meetup events. As organizer of Refresh Detroit, West Metro Detroit WordPress, and Metro Detroit WordPress, she encourages members to share their knowledge and experiences. In her free time, you'll find her birding, shooting photos, reading, or watching tennis.

2 thoughts on “Why You Want Domain Name Registration and Web Hosting at Different Companies”

  1. Good post Deborah.

    I recently had a nightmare for a client with hosting company which consists of two numbers and a ‘special character’…

    We’d moved my client off them into a new site and so had closed the hosting side of their account. We then tried to move the domain out. Only it was no where to be seen in their control panel!!! It turned out that to be able to be able to access any domain settings, you needed an ‘active’ hosting account for the domain to ‘live on’. So we had to re-activate a base level hosting plan for a month – only they put it on a contract for 12 months!!! Anyway, a couple of grumpy calls later we got it sorted but that’s a pretty stupid situation all round.

  2. What a frustrating experience for you and your client. I had never heard of that before, requiring an active hosting account in order to make domain name changes. Another reason to keep web hosting and domain name registration at separate companies.

    Glad you were able to get it all sorted out.

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