Surprise. Surprise. Oh, no. It happens all too often when businesses are ready to upgrade, refresh, or move their website. Often, startup businesses choose a do-it-yourself (DIY) website wizard setup years ago as a free, starter site. Sometimes an unscrupulous web designer or host has registered their domain name “for them” — using their contact information.
Correcting domain name ownership can become very time consuming and sometimes impossible without legal action. The person or entity that owns your domain name also has the power to take down your website or hijack your domain name! Here’s how you can check your domain name contacts, ownership, and protect your website.
My practice is to perform a quick WHOIS lookup for domain name details for new clients to make sure their domain name assets are up-to-date and reflect their ownership. Oftentimes, the DIY vendor, webmaster, or other unknown person/friend/colleague owns and has complete control over a client’s domain name assets, unbeknownst to them, so we start by working together on correcting domain name contact records.
DO YOU OWN YOUR DOMAIN NAME? Let’s check now. The WHOIS database is a searchable list of every single domain currently registered in the world. Several tools are available online to audit your domain name information. Below are four of the most popular WHOIS database lookup websites. You can check and verify your domain name contact details using one of these tools to make sure they are correct. If contact details are not immediately available, look for and follow the link shown on your WHOIS results page to your specific registrar of record.
If your domain name details are correct, great! Now make sure you have your username and password and are able to login and manage it.
It doesn’t matter if you register a domain name yourself, or if your web host, web developer, or someone else does it for you. What matters is that you, the small business owner, are listed as the domain owner and main contact person, AND that you are able to login and manage your account.
When registering a domain, there are a few contact information areas to understand:
To protect your domain name, make sure you are listed as both the Registrant and the Administrative Contact on the domain record. Always make sure you have an accessible and secure external email address tied to all of your domain names. If you find you’re not listed correctly, update your records right away.
It’s a huge relief to know you have control and ownership of your domain name. You’ll gain security, peace of mind, and the freedom to move your business forward with a new web developer and/or hosting company as it suits your online business success!