Domain Names

Obtaining, maintaining and reclaiming ownership of an internet domain

YOUR Domain Name is the most important thing that you need to maintain OWNERSHIP of.  All too often websites are constructed without the owners rights to their domain name which can cause you grief later on if you want to make a change. Let’s follow this scenario:

Jane Doe created her first website with ABC web design and hired them to not only design the site and add the content but to register a domain name as well. The path of least resistance which made sense at the time.

As technologies have advanced and there are more opportunities making it easier for Jane to manage her own website  she decided that was the thing to do. But her domain name JaneDoe.com is owned by ABC web design, she doesn’t know where it was registered nor does she have a user name or password to gain access to the domain name control panel.

Domain Names and website hosting are two different things.  You can have a Domain Name (several in fact) without having website hosting but you can’t have website hosting without a domain name.

Basic Facts

All domains on the internet have been registered, from google.com to artbiz.ca.

To find out who owns a particular domain, you need to do a WHOIS search. These searches are free, and offered by most registrars. If you are working with a domain outside the Canada, e.g. .co.uk or .com.au or .co.nz, then you need to find a registrar in that country and use their WHOIS search engine.

Here is a site where you can search your domain name to see who owns it:http://domain-search.domaintools.com/

The price of registering an internet domain varies between about CDN $5 and CDN $120 per year. Most places charge about $10 for .com or .ca domains, with a discount for multi-year registrations.

The most common mistakes that people make are

  • (a) letting a third-party register a domain that they want and
  • (b) losing track of the password that they were given for their domain registration if they were given one at all.
  • These mistakes can cost anywhere from $150 to $15,000 to rectify. In many cases, small businesses are forced to switch to a different address, requiring changes to stationery, all their contacts’ address books, and so on.

For all of these reasons, we encourage people to register their own domain rather than have a third-party do it for them. It only takes a few minutes and it is not really that complicated.

If you used a third-party to register your domain name and do not have access to the control panel, user name or password you can try to contact them and ask for access. If they are nice they will provide this to you, if they aren’t so nice or give you the run around or are just plain unresponsive it may be worth starting over with a new domain name that you OWN.

The most important thing to look for in a domain registrar is a control panel, which lets you login at any time to make adjustments to your name servers (DNS). If you cannot get control of your “name servers”, you might as well not use that registrar at all, at any price.

We recommend using netfirms.ca to register your domain name if at all possible. You can unlock your domain and change the name servers (DNS) anytime without having to contact the registrar. With .ca domains you can set the permissions for the registrar to handle the approvals with the CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority) which will save you an extra step. AT the very least register your own domain name and we can do the rest for you.

Changing hosting providers

A hosting provider is a company which hosts a web site, email accounts, a database, etc., on your behalf. Hosting services can be bundled with domain name registration but that does not guarantee optimal service. While domain registration is very, very straightforward, web and email hosting is not.

For small businesses, for professionals working from home without an IT department, it is important to find someplace which can listen to your requirements and act accordingly.

There are many reasons that people need to change hosting providers over the years. One reason is, of course, price. But there are other reasons which generally boil down to lack of customized service.

In order to change hosting providers for web or email, you generally need to (re)gain control of your domain and the definition of the name servers which provide DNS. The name servers cause a name, such as www.artbizwebdesign.com, to resolve to an internet address which is a number. Each hosting provider has machines with unique numbers. If you want to move a web site from an old/bad host to a new/groovy host at a new address, you absolutely must be able to control the identity of the name servers. Usually there are at least two name servers used for each domain.

The WHOIS record for a domain always reports the identity of the name servers. You should check those and make sure that they are with a company that you trust, either a good registrar, a good hosting company or a good web design firm.

Transferring a Domain to a New Registrar

In some cases, it is worth transferring domains to save ongoing annual fees. This can be tricky because, these days, domains are locked, meaning that they cannot be transferred without the owner taking extra steps. (And this is because too many people stole domains away from their rightful owners, before locking was available.)

Before you transfer an existing domain, you should capture the current DNS records by going to network-tools, putting in your domain name, and retrieving the DNS information. Print that – and/or save the information to a file. You will need it.

To transfer a domain, you login to the old/bad/expensive registrar’s web site and UNLOCK the domain. You then go to the new/good/inexpensive registrar’s site and request a transfer of your domain to the new place. A series of emails will be sent by the registrars to confirm that the whole process is legal, and you will need to confirm the transfer. Usually you will also have to pay one year’s fee to the new registrar, and that will extend the life of your domain by a year (so you do not lose any money, you are only pre-paying early).

I hope this helps and please contact me if you need to ask questions

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