Do You Own Your Web Address?

whois-lookupIt happened again. It was time for a website to be redesigned, most likely from the ground up. Designing the site to modern standards was going to be easy enough. But then the question was asked: “Do you have FTP access to the site’s files and the login info needed to change the DNS nameservers?” Blank stare. Silence.

A quick check uncovers that the business owner is not the domain owner — it was registered by the previous developer. Who hasn’t updated the site in years. Who hasn’t returned emails or phone calls. Who is likely never to be heard from again.

This is bad. Very bad.

Even if you know nothing about computers, websites, or domain registration rules, know this: your URL is a valuable piece of legal property that YOU need to be in control of. It’s in the league of a title for real estate. You may not be a title expert and understand all the legal requirements to make sure you actually own a property, but you certainly know it needs to be in YOUR name. Not your title agent’s. Not your realtor’s. Yours. (Web professionals are you listening?)

It’s easy to just let your web person handle all of this for you. It’s a service many web professionals are happy to provide. So when they ask for your full name, address, phone number, and credit card to register your website’s address, it’s for a good reason. Don’t let that scare you off. Make sure that when your website’s domain is registered, you’re kept informed. Every web domain can be set up with owner, admin, and tech contact info. Unless you’re building your own site for your own use, there should be more than one person listed.

Want to check and see who’s got control of your domain? Enter your URL here http://www.whois.com/whois/ and see what it turns up. It is possible that personal information privacy has been requested and you won’t be able to see names. But there should be something displayed there to help you track it down if need be. (Try looking for the “registrar abuse contact.”)

This 30-second check could save you from a world of hurt down the road. Do it now. Know for sure. Get it sorted.