Many small businesses and non-profits rely on the expertise of other companies such as Cardinal Acres Web Development to create and maintain their web presence. On the surface, this is a good arrangement as very few small businesses or non-profits have the resources to create and/or maintain their internet presence on their own.
However, by “outsourcing” your web presence to another company you may have inadvertently given up ownership along with control of your internet presence.
Some unscrupulous web development companies will “handle everything” for you to include obtaining your domain registration and web hosting infrastructure either via services the company provides themselves or via “reseller” arrangements with other companies. If you don’t have access to the provider for your domain and web hosting services, you may be setting yourself up for an unfortunate experience should you want to transfer administration of your web presence elsewhere.
The most critical aspect of your internet presence to retain direct control over is your “domain registration” (acme.com is an example of a domain name). Your domain registration is the internet equivalent of the deed or title which sets out the person or organization that owns any given domain name. Domains are purchased from a “domain registrar”.
If you don’t own your domain, then you are at the mercy of whoever does. You can sometimes determine the owner of a given domain by using the WHOIS utility to list the domain registration information (you can find an online version of WHOIS at lookup.icann.org). WHOIS will list the “registrant” along with additional information; if the “registrant” section lists you or your company, then you are the domain owner.
However, if a WHOIS lookup returns results that look something like what is highlighted below in red:
then the domain has “privacy protection” enabled to obscure the actual name of the domain owner and associated contact information (you can thank spammers for this as they got the bright idea of using WHOIS to “harvest” known good contact information to use for their schemes; “privacy protection” removes the risk of having your private contact information listed in WHOIS results). In this case, you can often determine the domain registrar via the information in the “Abuse” section highlighted in green above.
If you have an account with the domain registrar, login and make sure that your domain is listed in your account. If it is, then you’re set; if not, you have work to do beyond the scope of this post but a good start is to contact the domain registrar, explain the situation, and see what help they can offer to gain control of your domain name.
The second, but less critical, aspect of your internet presence over which you should maintain ownership of is your “web hosting provider”. Most small businesses or non-profits don’t have the capability to deploy their own web server nor the internet connectivity to support a reliable 24/7 internet connection for a web server. Fortunately, web hosting providers provide various options for effectively “renting” either a portion of a web server (“shared hosting”), an entire virtual web server (“virtual private server”), or an entire physical web server (“dedicated hosting”).
Again, you should maintain control over the web hosting provider for your website whether this service is provided by the same company that manages your other internet assets or it is a separate company. The web hosting provider is responsible for providing the infrastructure (both hardware and software) that actually gets your website on the internet.
If you don’t know your web hosting provider, it can be determined via lookups of the IP address of your website but the details are beyond the scope of this article.
Own Your Internet Presence
The philosophy of Cardinal Acres Web Development is that our clients always own their domain name as well as their web hosting provider. This allows our client’s to “own” their internet presence. Cardinal Acres Web Development sincerely hopes that all our clients remain our customers, but if the time ever comes to part ways, our clients can do so easily as they “own” their internet presence.
Does your business “own” its internet presence? If not, you should consider ensuring that you at least maintain control of your domain registration if not your web hosting as well.