Although just about every small business has a website, most small business owners choose to outsource the development and management of their Internet presence.
Even if you choose to outsource everything, there are two items that you must keep current:
- your domain registration information
- your hosting company information
Let’s discuss each.
Your domain is your “dot.com” name. For example, if your company is Red Widgets, Inc., your domain may be www.redwidgets.com. This is your domain name. If your domain name gets hijacked or you fail to renew it, you will lose your domain to a third party who may refuse to sell it back to you, or who may demand a huge sum.
Domains are purchased through a domain registrar. Several of the more popular registrars are:
Most domains will cost you about $10 to $20 per year. You need to write down and keep up with where your domain is registered, your login and password. If you “delegate” your domain registration and the person who actually fills out the online form disappears, you probably won’t know the answers to that person’s security questions (“what is the name of your 2nd grade teacher?” “what street did you live on in kindergarten?”) and it can be very difficult to convince the registrar that you really own the name.
If your domain expires, you could lose it to a squatter or a competitor. You can go to “whois.com” to look up the expiration date and the name of the registrar if you are not sure.
Here is an interesting live data stream about GoDaddy registrations. As you can see dot com registrations continue to capture the lion’s share of domain registrations:
Your website hosting company is where your website “lives.” Typically hosting companies consist of hundreds or thousands of very fast computers connected to the Internet backbone. These computer farms could be anywhere in the United States (preferable) or anywhere in the world (more risky).
Examples of popular hosting companies are:
- LiquidWeb (who I use)
There are literally hundreds of hosting companies offering a wide range of hosting plans ranging from a few dollars per month to thousands of dollars per month.
Many hosting companies also offer domain registration services. I prefer to keep these two entities separate.
Here, too, you need to know how to log in to your hosting company account so you can make sure that your account stays current and paid up. If you have an employee or consultant set up your hosting, you need to have the current login and password.
Every developer can recount horror stories of trusting business owners who lost their website investments because they did not have logins and passwords for their accounts. Don’t let this happen to you.