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Several of our clients are at the level of site traffic, sophistication and technical know-how to require the most common type of hosting available: shared Web site hosting. That means they don’t see more than a few hundred site visitors per day and it means they don’t have internal IT staff nor do they have an IT background themselves. This situation tends to be both very common and an opportunity for abuse from nefarius Web development companies.
Web development companies who offer packages and monthly support rates will often bundle together three key items that clients believe provide good value as a bundle:
1. Domain Registration (the company you register your domain with, ie. http://www.shotwellcompany.com or ww,w.lanterman.org, etc)
2. Web hosting (the company who stores all the Web pages or databases and makes them available for visitors to download to their computer)
3. Web site support (the development company will offer a certain amount of time or a certain number of “incidents” which are covered by their monthly support agreement)
We don’t often offer Web site support agreements for our clients, but that’s a separate topic for another time. What I’d like to focus on, is why we believe that clients should ensure that they set up accounts for Domain Registration and Web Hosting in their own name and with two separate companies.
Basically, the Domain Registrar provides you with a lease on a domain for a set amount of time and the ability to re-point your domain to any Web Host out there. That means that should anything happen to your Web Host, you can immediately jump into the Admin account for your domain and point it elsewhere. We’ve seen Web Hosting companies come and go, popping into and out of existence on the Web. We’ve seen Web developers pop into and out of existence as well (I believe many of us have a penchant for long trips), leaving their clients hanging for days at a time. Imagine if your company email went down and the Web Host wouldn’t provide support for your issue because the account was not in your name. Imagine if you had a developer go rogue on you and wanted to block you out of your account. You won’t have the technical know-how to hack him out of the system, but if you can go straight to the Web Host you’ll be able to by-pass his controls entirely.
This kind of client-focused strategy for control over Web assets has proven useful on multiple occassions with our clients over the years. Take an hour to get comfortable with your account at Godaddy (well, that’s who we use for domain registrations anyway) or take an hour to set up your own email accounts with your host (we tend to use Media Template, Mosso/Rackspace Cloud and Dreamhost for Web Hosting). It may well save you dozens of hours and thousands of dollars the next time there’s a problem.