In the 14 years I’ve been designing websites, I’ve seen good, bad, and ugly situations when it comes to website ownership. Today, we’re going to talk about the ugly.
When I take on a new web design client, one of the first pieces of information I ask for are the logins to the client’s web host. The responses I frequently get range from “OK, here they are” to “I don’t have those, my last web designer/employee/my cousin has them and I don’t know what they are or how to reach them” to “what’s a web host?”.
Many of my clients do not have the basic information they need as a website owner. It does not matter who you hire to handle your website affairs, if you signed up for and pay for the hosting and domain, then it is still your hosting and domain. All account logins are yours and you should have a copy of them stored somewhere. If you have a website made for you, you should have your own copy of the website too. A copy stored on YOUR computer and/or a CD, DVD, or portable hard drive. You don’t want your only copy of your website to live on the web server. This is a handy backup in case there is a problem that causes you to lose your entire website. And that can and does happen on occasion.
One thing to bear in mind though is if you need a domain (your own .com), be mindful of whose name it is in when purchased. For example, if you hire someone else to get it for you, did they pay for it and put their name on it, or your name? Because if they put their name on it as account owner, they own it. Did you have them sign up for your web hosting? If so, when they signed up, did they put your name on the account or theirs? If theirs, then they own it.
It does not matter if you are paying for it regularly. The domain registrar and web host MUST assign the account to whoever’s name is on the account. If your name is not on there and your web designer disappears, it is possible you may not be able to regain access to that information.
So remember: any time you have anyone handle your website needs for you, make sure that
1. Everything is in your name
2. You have all logins for those accounts
3. You have backups of your website.
Even if you host with my business, GeekArtist Web Solutions, LLC, and have us handle everything for you, we’re still going to make sure you have this information. If you tell me you’ll never need it and don’t want it, I’m going to tell you, “I have to send this to you anyway.”
It is YOUR website. So you are entitled to all the account information and should always keep that data somewhere you can easily retrieve it.