Many businesses are reliant on their web site or email but often don’t have the in-house knowledge to ensure that their domain names are reasonably secured. It’s vital to protect them just as other business asset.
Typical of the problems we frequently see and resolve on behalf of small businesses are:
Domains not getting renewed.
Web developers or IT providers going out of business, internet domains then going down and no-one being contactable.
Hosting companies changing DNS servers and not transferring records, breaking email amongst other things.
Web developers holding sites and email to ransom over billing disputes.
Developers registering their clients domains to themselves, or increasing hosting costs massively, claiming it will only run on their platform.
There are some fantastic developers out there, but unfortunately lots of bad ones too. Unless you have very good relationship with a trusted developer, it’s usually best to keep a degree of separation between your web development requirements and your hosting/DNS/infrastructure.
RSCC provide help and advice to our clients on all things domain related, but if managing this yourself there are a few key suggestions we make to minimise your chance of future problems.
1. Register the domain yourself or have a trusted party do this for you. Ensure that the ‘registrant’ is yourself. Quite often we see Web developers have registered the names to themselves rather than to the client, with the obvious legal problems this entails. You can check the status for your domain at nominet.org.uk and go to ‘whois lookup’.
2. If choosing a new domain, use a .co.uk unless you have a specific reason not to. The UK registry is run by Nominet, who oversee all the registrars. They are incredibly helpful when it comes to disputes or problems. Getting a dispute on a .com domain resolved may leave you tearing your hair out.
3. Choose your registrar with care. Some that may look good value have hidden fees and may make it difficult to move away. Read some reviews, phone up their support line (not the sales lines) and see how long they take to answer. Does the call handler seem knowledgeable?
4. If having a web site developed, insist to the developer it run on a hosting provider of your choice, not theirs. If they insist it runs on a ‘custom back end that only they can provide’, it’s probably best to run a mile, to avoid locking in future problems and expense.
5. Do not use your Web Developers hosting and do not give them control of your DNS. By following this tip you’ll avoid many of problems that many small businesses see.
6. Ensure that you have a full backup of your website, kept somewhere safe.
7. Ensure that your contact details at the registrar are current. They will email you when it’s time to renew and you need to ensure that you receive those emails.
8. Beware cheap! – Providing IT services costs money – specifically in terms of staff and infrastructure. If a service seems incredibly cheap when compared to the competition, it’s probably wise to assume that at least one of these is lacking. Lack of staff to resolve issues, or overloaded infrastructure are typical.