Your business has a website that is administered by a third party. This is actually a great way for companies to have a website yet not worry about making sure it is up to date, is safe and secure, and allows the business owner to concentrate on their business. Everything is going great, your website is being updated by the administrator as you request, then BOOM! You can’t get in contact with the administrator and you have to change something on your website YESTERDAY. What do you do?
There are 12 vital pieces of information every business owner who owns a website should know. This information will help the business owner take control of their website if they decide to change administration companies, administer the website themselves, or make a change to the website itself. Although this information will be an absolute necessity if you decide to change website administrators, it is also a good idea to have this information for your own piece of mind.
Information about the domain name (www.yourcompany.com)
1. Where was the domain registered? Godaddy.com, namesecure.com, networksolutions.com, etc.
2. Who actually purchased the domain name? Check the WHOIS database to make sure you are the owner on record (http://whois.net/) If YOU or your business are not the owner on record, fix it immediately. You must be the registered owner of the domain name to ensure you always have control of it. If the name is owned by someone else, they can keep the domain name, sell the domain name, or transfer it at any time, interrupting your business and causing mass confusion with your visitors.
3. What is the User ID and Password to access the site where the domain name was purchased? You need to know this so that you can manage your domain.
4. When does the domain name expire? You can find this out from the WHOIS database.
5. Be sure your domain name is in a “locked” status. This will prevent someone from transferring the domain to another registrar without your permission.
Who hosts your website?
6. What is the name of your hosting company? Use http://www.whoishostingthis.com/ to get detailed information about a domain, including host and IP address.
7. Whose name is the hosting account under? It should be yours or your company. If you are not getting an invoice for hosting your website directly from the hosting provider, find out why.
8. What is the account name and password to access the admin area for the hosting provider? You’ll need this to see what kind of a hosting plan you have, to create new email accounts, and manage your account overall.
9. What is the FTP address and password? They are typically the same as your user ID and password, but not always. You need information in order to send files to your server.
10. What is the name of your database(s), the username for the database and passwords for it? For example, to access your MySQL database a unique name and password is typically assigned.
11. What email accounts have been set up and what are the passwords? Check to see if you need to delete any old email accounts and consider if you need to change your password(s) too.
12. Are backups being made of your website on an ongoing basis and if so, where are they located? Some website platforms and most administration panels supplied by the hosting provider allow backups to be emailed to you or stored on the hosting providers servers. Backups are essential to be sure you always have recent copies of your files and databases. Your website can be restored using these backups in the event of a catastrophic failure somewhere.
As well as the information mentioned above, check to see if your website has any special software, applications or programs running that require a user ID and password to login. These might include a shopping cart for eCommerce, site statistics, etc.
Lastly, if you are taking control of your website from a third party administrator, change all of your passwords for the accounts mentioned and others you might have. CAUTION; changing your password to your database, can cause your website, software or applications to stop working and show various error messages. It is much better to add a new user to the database and make any changes to your config files to include the new user. You may be able to delete the old user from the database, but it is much safer to change their permissions just in case the name may be used at a later date. Your hosting company may be able to help with this if needed.
These 12 vital pieces of information may not make a whole lot of sense to you, but what does make sense is that with this information you now have 100% control over your website in the event you need it.