When it comes to launching your website, you’ll likely hire a web designer or developer to help you get your site online.
Like your car mechanic, you hire them for their knowledge and experience in designing, developing, and publishing a website.
One area web designers and developers know about is web hosting and domain registration.
While many will offer to set up hosting and register your domain name, I always recommend clients buy their own web hosting and domain registration.
After publishing how to fix your account has been suspended post, I’ve received too many messages like this one:
Deborah, I need help, fast!
My web designer is hosting my site, and now the “your account has been suspended” message is showing up on my site.
They say I need to pay a lot of money to get it fixed, but they don’t know how much. My designer won’t give me my login or password to my web hosting account.
I contacted the web host, but they won’t talk with me, since I don’t have access to the hosting account. Oh, and I don’t have any backups for my site.
My site is down, I need it up ASAP.
Can you help?
What’s the Problem?
When your designer registers your domain name or sets up web hosting for you, they often don’t register you as the account owner.
Or the business contact for the account.
What does that mean?
Your web designer will set up your web hosting and domain name in their name.
Which means they own your hosting account and the domain name. They pay for the hosting and the domain name.
They’re not in your name.
The hosting company or domain registrar don’t know you exist.
They will only interact with the person or email account associated with the account owner or business contact.
When the account comes up for renewal, your designer receives notification about the payment.
What happens when your designer decides to close their business?
Unless they transfer the web hosting accounts and domain name to you, you run the risk of losing your domain name.
And your website files.
Always Control Your Domain Name and Web Hosting
Your domain name is one of your most important business assets. It should always be in your name.
Let me tell you a story about a new client with an existing website. We planned to move their site to a new web host.
Except my new client had no details about their domain name registration.
When I did my research, I discovered the domain name information was protected by the security of the domain registrar, to restrict who could see ownership.
The previous designing company had multiple people who worked on their site.
It took over a week of email and phone messages to four different people to learn who set up my new client’s domain registration.
A person who had left their company over a year ago to start their own company.
At any time, that person could have changed the ownership and my client would have been left without their domain name.
Web hosting is similar. You want it in your name so you control it.
When I learn that a developer or designer refuses to give a client access to their own web hosting account or their domain name, that sends up a red flag.
- Is it because the developer is holding the website hostage?
- Did the client not pay the developer for past work?
- Or could it be the web hosting bill hasn’t been paid?
It could be any number of issues.
Pay for Your Domain Name and Web Hosting
As the owner of the website, you want to protect yourself and have control of your site.
Pay for your own domain name and web hosting.
It’s your business, blog, nonprofit, or consulting agency.
You own it.
When I talk with clients about web hosting and domain names, I always ask clients to purchase in their own name.
I compare it to their electric bill.
You own your home or your business, you pay for the electric bill.
No one else pays for the electric bill. It’s a cost for your house or business. And it’s a long-term cost.
It’s the same thing for domain names and hosting. It’s a long-term cost and it’s your responsibility to pay for it.
Recommendations for Web Hosting and Domain Name Registrars
With hundreds of web hosts and domain name registrars, where do you start?
It depends on the requirements for features and functionality for your website.
And that’s where you rely on the experience and skills of your designer or developer. They’ve worked with web hosts and domain name registrars in the past, and can give you recommendations.
As a client, paying for web hosting and your domain name means you own it.
You don’t want to risk your website being down and not being able to access it.
I recognize clients may get confused over the technical issues involved with purchasing web hosting or a domain name.
Which is why I provide consulting on web hosting or domain name registration. It’s one of the services I include in my quotes for web projects.
Originally published January 26, 2016