Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who Has the Keys to Your Domain?

Way too often businesses have no clue who is the rightful owner of their domain name. When I say domain name I’m talking about a website address or URL, such as “francomedia.com”. We have seen too many times that business owners are not the owners of their domain. Sometimes it’s an ex-employee, long lost partner, or that computer whiz down the street. And when it comes time for a renewal or DNS change, you find out the hard way how difficult it can be for a business to obtain ownership of the domain they use for their website.

So who is the owner of a domain name anyways? Well it’s the person who registers and pays for the domain. When you purchase a domain you have to fill out your name, address, phone number, etc. to register ownership. So if you’re running a business and ask someone to register a domain for you it’s probably best to have them at least use your contact and billing information or go through a reputable service provider.

Let’s say you didn’t know this before hand and an ex-employee has your domain registered in their name. If you’re lucky, a business can get through this conundrum after a quick call to the now-gone employee. But things don’t always go the easy way. We have seen clients spend weeks trying to contact the owners of their domain, meanwhile their site is either down or nothing is getting done on it. Calls to the registrar (eg. Go Daddy) won’t do you any good, because they’re only interested in speaking with the registered owner of the domain.

So, what can you do about your domains right now? The only thing you can do is to make sure you know who owns the domain before it becomes a problem. If the owner of the business owns the domain, it’s probably in good hands. Or you can leave it to be managed by a trust-worthy company. Some businesses leave all that stuff with their IT service providers, or host providers. That’s usually a good idea since they handle the other aspects of your website needs. If you need to check who owns your domain you can use a free WHOIS lookup tool such as http://whois.domaintools.com/