Could something as innocent as bounced credit card payment from your “provider” kill your website, email and domain names in one foul swoop?
I’ve spoken to a number of people for whom this is the case. This article is semi-technical, but as the business owner this is stuff you NEED TO GET RIGHT. If you don’t you could very easily be at the mercy of a hosting company.
Let’s say for the sake of this article that you own supercutepuppiesonline.com. Now in order to own that you will have had to register that domain name with someone, for example NetRegistry, CrazyDomains, GoDaddy etc etc.
Some companies like NetRegistry are primarily domain registrars. You register the name with them, nothing more. Others, like CrazyDomains and GoDaddy complicate the situation by bundling together domain names and hosting in one package - which is helpful if you know what you’re doing, but can be a time bomb if you don’t.
To be clear, there is two types of hosting - DNS hosting, and Web Hosting. DNS hosting is the thing that tells “the internet” that www.supercutepuppiesonline.com points to 123.223.049.123 (or whatever the IP address of your Web Hosting) is.
Web hosting is the thing that allows www.supercutepuppiesonline.com to deliver a website, whether it be wordpress / medium / wix or whatever.
Mail hosting is often included with most web hosting plans these days - that’s the thing that enables you to send and receive emails on your custom domain.
These hosting types are different and separate, although for most they are combined. Here’s why that’s REALLY BAD.
You register your DNS, email and website with SuperFakeOnlineHosting.com (hopefully not a real hosting company). For some reason, they cancel or suspend your account. This could be because you didn’t pay the bill, they suspected your account as sending spam / viruses or other terms of service violations that you probably wouldn’t do but could easily happen if you happened to get hacked.
Here’s where this gets fun.
Your website goes offline. Your email stops. Any associated online services under the domain name stop. Your trusty web guy swings into action to help you out.
The fast solution here, is to redirect the DNS onto new hosting so that you can get email and a backup site online immediately. Except in this case, you can’t because you’re locked out of your DNS account. This means you have to deal with the support line directly. If you’ve done this with a cheap hosting company lately (that most people use) …. you’ll notice issues can take days, weeks or months to get resolved.
ALWAYS host your key domain name registrations separately to your web hosting. I know it’s super convenient to have it all in the one place, but it only takes one mis-hap and you’re in a world of pain.
When you OWN and have ACCESS to the DNS, the web host can shut you down all they want, you can quickly (and easily) migrate onto backup / emergency hosting while the issue gets solved.
ALWAYS own the DNS account in your own name, and have the passwords yourself.
Not via your IT guy, not in their name or through their business. YOU should be able to access this stuff at any time. If your IT guy or company bought this stuff on your behalf - ask for access to the DNS hosting. If they can’t give that to you - RUN AWAY. Even if they are “managing” it for you. You need access at all times. Payment should be on YOUR credit card, not via them paying it then invoicing you after the fact.
If your IT guys are saying its easier for you if they handle it, THEY ARE LYING. I never do web hosting for any of my clients ever. This is why - it doesn’t serve me, or them. I don’t want to deal with missed $8 card payments. You can deal with that yourself.
I setup the account, YOU pay, YOU give ME access. That way I get what I need, and YOU retain all control. After all, it’s your business, not mine.
If someone is paying your hosting or registrations on your behalf, and they fail to renew
a) You don't get notified that it is expiring
b) Your site and name could fall into the wrong hands with zero notice. All you'd see is all your web services stop working, and perhaps your website will go elsewhere. A recent example of this was when jebbush.com wasn't renewed correctly, and Trump snaffled the domain and redirected it to his page instead. Whoops.
ALWAYS host your DNS with large, primarily domain hosting companies like Netregistry / Melbourne IT. The best rule of thumb here is if you go to buy a domain name, and they auto add hosting for 12 months, perhaps go elsewhere. If you can't buy the domain name and DNS hosting by itself.... run away even faster.
Now this article isn’t about saying one hosting company is good bad or otherwise, use whatever you use, I’ve just highlighted some typical companies here to highlight what most people use.
The main point is, your domain registrations (and ideally DNS hosting) should be separate to your main web & mail hosting - and you, the owner, should have direct access to it at all times. I don’t particularly care which services you use, but just make sure they are separate and you have access, so that if there ever is a problem you can make changes easily.