UPDATED MAY 2020
Do you know who actually OWNS your website? Should be you, right? You might be thinking, well, I paid a whole lot of money to have my beautiful website built, so I own it. Right?
Well, not so fast there. Here are a couple of very important questions you should be asking yourself:
- Do I know where my domain is registered?
- What about my web host? Do I know who that is? Can I log in to my web host?
- Do I have a copy of my website?
And those are just for starters.
If you don’t know the answer to all of those questions, I really hope you have an answer to this one:
- Do I have the contact information for the person who built my website?
Please say YES!
If so, email them, call them, whatever you have to do to get in contact with them, do it!
And ask them for this information:
- domain name registry login
- webhost login (these two may be the same)
- where can I locate a recent copy of my website?
If your answer was NO, please find a friend with a trusted web developer and ask them to help you, or give me a call.
Now I’ll try and explain what all of that means, simply.
Your Domain (URL)
Your domain name must be registered with a domain registry. This can be GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Hover, Name Cheap… the list goes on and on. They are the ones who keep track of who actually OWNS each domain name (in my case mine is mindyiannelli.com). You can look it up here, but if there is privacy on it, you won’t be able to see the name of the person who owns the domain, but you will be able to see where it is registered:
Visit whois.net and type in your domain name.
The problem here is, and one I have just dealt with for a client yet again, some people who create websites for their clients actually register the client’s domain name in THEIR NAME! So if I had someone build my website for me and they registered mindyiannelli.com for me, but put their name as owner, with their contact information and email address, then technically THEY would own my domain name instead of me!
Thankfully, all the times I have had to retrieve a domain name for a client so they could register it in their own name, we have been successful. But after quite a bit of time and fuss that was really not necessary. Unfortunately, I have heard of people being unsuccessful in trying to get rightful ownership of their own domain name, even being “bribed” to pay up in order for the web designer to hand over the rights to the domain.
Best to find out now which side you are on so this can be dealt with and made right.
Once you have confirmed that you are the rightful owner of your domain name, take a look at the expiration date and put that in your calendar – with a notification a couple of weeks early so you do not forget to renew it! If you are registered with GoDaddy, I know all too well that they will send you unrelenting reminders that your domain is set to expire! Unfortunately, though, with so many emails coming through sometimes people will ignore these “upcoming expiration” warnings. Automatic renewals are great, but then there always seems to be some issue with credit card numbers or expiration dates having changed, so they are not to be relied on!
What the heck is that you may be asking. The webhost is the company you pay to keep your website files, and possibly your email. Your website has to live somewhere, right? If you have a WordPress site (my favorite!) then you will have files for your website that are stored much like you store a Word or Excel files on your personal computer. It will also have a database, which is where all of your blog posts and website pages will be stored, along with many other items.
Your web host may be one of many, many options, such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, or my favorite, that I use, Siteground. You should be able to go there and login and see (if you should feel so inclined) all of your website files, databases, and email addresses that you have set up with your domain. Your domain name may be registered through this account as well, but that is not necessary, and, in fact, many web developers will advise against having your domain and website with the same company.
Your website should always have a recent backup. My clients that are on a maintenance plan with me will always have a recent backup available in case something happens to their website files. Even the clients that choose to keep up the maintenance on their own website will have a backup available to them from when I created their website, just in case they have not backed up their site recently.
I use a couple of different methods to back up my clients’ websites and one of them is Backup Buddy, which creates a copy of the entire website -all files and databases. Whatever platform your website is built on, there is a way to create a backup and you should make sure you are able to access that backup should the need arise.
So get going! If you couldn’t answer all of those questions right away, go digging for the answers.
If you need some help in either finding the answers or rectifying a problem with one of your answers, please give me a call. I would love to help you.
Remember, this is YOUR business, and YOU are the rightful owner of your business website!
I’d love to know how you did with the questions above, or if there are other questions you may have. Please comment below.
10 thoughts on “Do You Know Who Owns Your Website?”
Mindy I am so grateful I have set this up correctly and own my url and know how to access my files on Hostgator. It was due to getting caught in a virus that affected hundreds of thousands of sites that I had to get on top of this. I really appreciate this blog because it is the basics, which is where I am!
That is great to hear, Candess! Sorry to hear the reason (virus) but it turned out great as you are on top of all of that now! 🙂
This is great information, Mindy. It must come as a shock to those who discover they don’t actually own their own site. I set up my own through Hostgator and once it was up and running, had my son fix any glitches and also show me how to back up the files regularly.
Wonderful to hear you set it up yourself – so no worries there! Nice to have kids to help us with these things (mine still help me with my iPhone at times!)
So important to get this information out Mindy. I was fortunate when I started that I became aware of the importance of owning your website and domain name. I’m always surprised that a lot of people don’t know this.
I am surprised about this too, Joyce, and dismayed to find so many giving people this bad advice!
Mindy, what terrific information and reminders. I looked up my domain and I own it – whew! My site is backed up and I have a service that backs it up weekly.
Excellent, Tandy! Especially when you are blogging frequently, it is so important to have those weekly backups!
Good information. It’s very important to read those terms and conditions, or in my case, have a good, clear contract in force. Thanks. ~Cathy
The only thing I have a hard time with is the backup, so still working on that one.