Do You Own Your Domain?

Your domain name is one of your most valuable business assets.  You want full and complete control over it.  You can certainly grant levels of administrative access to your web designer or website hosting company but you want ultimate control in the event that either of those relationships changes.  In short, if you don't have full ownership of your domain name, you could lose the ability to use it.  
Losing your domain name means

  • You will no longer have access to any emails using that domain name.
  • You'll need to buy a new domain name
  • Any advertising you have with your domain name will have to be recreated and recirculated.
  • You will have to reestablish all of your business contacts with your new website and email information.
  • All of your Google rankings will need to be recreated and reestablished with your new domain name and pages.

Here's how you can tell if you own your own domain name:

  • Go to www.whois.com Enter your domain name in the search bar.  You should see another link next to your domain name to click on to see the ownership information.  You will see registrar info and registrant info.  Registrar is the company who processed the ownership of the domain name (GoDaddy, 1+1 etc...).  Registrant is the person, business or organization who 'owns' the name (John Doe, Doe Carpentry etc…).  Look for the line item:  "Registrant name:" You want to see your name as registrant.  In most cases, the information is public unless the owner has paid extra for privacy.
  • Do you have an account with any domain registration service such as:  Godaddy, 1+1, or other?
  • Do you receive billing information or renewal reminders from any domain registration service?  (a note here; be aware that you may receive registration spam that should not be confused with having an actual account.)
  • Do you see an annual domain name renewal on any of your credit card statements?

If your web designer or hosting company is renewing it for you and billing you in return; you do not actually own it.  They do.  With that ownership, they have complete control.  You may not be able to change web designers if you have any disagreements.  You may not be able to move your hosting if your hosting needs change.
What do you do if you aren't sure if you own your domain name?  If you are on good terms with your web designer; ask who is the registrant of your domain name.  A trustworthy web designer or website hosting company will not mind your inquiry and will be more than happy to help transfer the ownership to you.  Your web designer will likely recommend that he/she stay listed as technical or administrative to monitor your domain name renewal to be sure you properly renew it.

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