Do You Know Who Controls Your Website?


It’s happened to me three times in as many weeks. That frantic call or text message from someone whose domain name or website hosting has expired, or who cannot login to their WordPress website, their hosting provider control panel or… worse yet… someone whose disgruntled webmaster has hijacked their website.

It’s very important to remember that you, and you alone, are the owner of your domain and website. And there are some very important things that you absolutely need to take control of in the event that something catastrophic occurs – especially as it may relate to your domain name registration and your website hosting provider.

Domain Name Registration Information: It is imperative that you know – and have written down, backed up in the cloud and stored on a flash drive in a safe deposit box – with whom your domain name is registered (domain registrar), the domain registration expiration date and the username and password information for accessing your account.

Your domain registrar should send you an email reminder as the expiration date approaches. But why take a chance. Set an Outlook reminder a few months in advance with the pertinent username and login information so that you’re prepared. If your domain name expires, someone else can buy and register it. You never want to be in THAT place.

Hosting Provider Billing Information: In many cases the domain name registrar and hosting provider may be the same entity. That’s nice because you can kill two birds with one login. Your hosting provider is the entity that gives you space on their servers where your website files, media and database reside. It may also provide you with email accounts and forwarding, and a host of other services based on your hosting needs. If you fail to pay your bill, they can shut down your website until you do. If you don’t have your login information handy… Well, you get the picture.

Hosting Provider Control Panel Information: Your website’s control panel is where your webmaster will manage the “back-end” of your website, including email accounts and forwarding, passwords, backups, logs, security, domain redirects, FTP information and some really advanced stuff that will make your head spin and your eyes glaze over if I keep writing. Bottom line: it’s really important to have your control panel and FTP login information handy.

WordPress Administrator Login Information: Lots of people misplace or forget this information. Though you can recover your username and password information easily with your WordPress admin email address, many people misplace or forget that too. Avoid being one of them.

Tips for Taking Control of Your Website:

  1. Try to synchronize your domain name and website hosting expiration/renewal dates so that you can renew them at the same time before they expire.
  2. Create a text file or MSWord document that contains all of the information noted above and store it in a Dropbox folder or some other cloud storage site. Make sure the service you use offers a mobile app that allows you to get to the information quickly via mobile, tablet or PC/Mac device so you can download it immediately when you need it and/or in the event it’s lost.
  3. Avoid the situation where your webmaster and hosting provider are the same company.
  4. Never share your billing login information with your webmaster.
  5. Make sure your webmaster gives you full control of the site, including:
    1. Domain registration information
    2. Hosting provider information
    3. Analytics access
    4. All files access
  6. If for some reason an unpleasant situation does arise between you and your webmaster and you have the slightest doubt about his/her integrity, change your billing, control panel and FTP passwords.
  7. You may also need some of the following information, depending on your site:
    1. CMS back-end Administrative Access
    2. Shopping Cart Administrative Access
    3. SSL Certificate Information
    4. Any other 3rd party website codes

Mike Poynton

Owner/CEO, Paradise Social

Architect, dad, gardener, PR & social media guy who likes snakes, fruit trees, kids, dogs, photography, motorcycles, beaches, food & beer. Based in Costa Rica.



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