Most would agree that a company cannot do without reliable email and a good website. But too often, when we begin working with a client and gathering information to manage their online presence, we discover they don’t have access to (let alone ownership of) some of the most critical pieces of information to their business. These seemingly insignificant sets of URLs, usernames and passwords are a lot like a set of keys. They open the doors to your business and if left in the wrong hands can lead to devastating loss.
There are three critical pieces of information you MUST retain control of:
1. Domain hosting (“DNS”) — location/username/password
2. Website hosting — location/username/password
3. Email hosting — location/username/password
This does not mean that you should host your email and website on your own internal server. But it does mean you should know where they are hosted and the account information including logins. Sadly, we often hear of companies unable to make changes to their website because their tech support person left and took the account information with them. Or, the owner’s brother-in-law set up their email and lost the username and password rendering the account inaccessible when problems arise. Without vital account information, it’s extremely difficult to fix an email problem or have an old website taken down—much less update it. This renders their site abandoned until the registration runs out or the hosting service is cancelled. Then you have to start over with new accounts. What a pain!
To help you avoid all that nonsense, we’ve outlined some helpful tips below. First, let’s review a few basic definitions…
What is a “domain name?”
Your domain is your website”address” — it tells users how to get to your website. It is similar to a postal address. When you write an address on an envelope it tells the mail carrier where to deliver it. This is the same with a domain name. When you type the domain name into your browser you are telling your computer where you would like to go. (An example of a domain name is www.creativeinstinct.biz.)
Domain Host / Registrar:
A ‘domain registrar’ is a commercial entity that manages the reservation of internet domain names. (Examples of registrar companies: GoDaddy.com, Domains.com, Register.com). Domain registrar companies charge anywhere from $10-$30 per year to keep your domain name reserved—giving your website somewhere to “point” to. This registration prevents others from using your website address. Many people are under the impression that their website ‘domain’ and their website ‘hosting’ are one in the same. This is NOT the case. Your website domain and hosting are separate, often reserved through separate entities.
This is the server where your website pages “live.” It is separate from your domain. Website hosting is a service that allows organizations to make their website accessible via the world wide web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server for use by clients, as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. Some web hosting companies also provide website development services, or an online site building tool for do-it-yourselfers. (The website server used by Creative Instinct is provided by wix.com. We build a custom website for a client, then set up a Wix hosting account for them with unique username and password. Then we transfer the completed website to their account. Our clients have full control of their hosting account, login and settings, and can access their site for editing at any time.)
Your email and website do not need to live on the same server. In fact, because email is so crucial to your business, it’s best that it resides in a separate account that you control. An example of an email host is Google (gmail) — it is what we suggest to our clients. We do not provide email hosting services. Online email is easy for anyone to set up, and we feel it’s best that our clients have full control of their email accounts. For a more professional email address, we suggest you create an email “alias” that includes your domain name. (Example: firstname.lastname@example.org). In Google Mail, this can be done in the user account ‘Settings.’ Or simply type “email alias” into Google’s search box step-by-step instructions.
Do You Know Where Your Passwords Are?
Create an initial inventory of all of the things you already have and all of the things you need to get. Create a single document of all of your site credentials and save it in a very safe place. This is like keeping a set of keys hidden under a flowerpot. Be careful where you store this document. But share it with at least one other trusted person – just in case. Kind of like making sure your mom has a copy of your keys in case you forgot your hiding place.
Info needed for domain hosting, website hosting and email hosting:
- Host entity name and website address
- Your account number
- Your username and password
- The name and email address associated with the account