You have a great new business idea – it’s going to make you millions! One of the first things you do is register your internet domain name to cement your online identity. You’ll be using that every time you send an email or direct someone to your website. Now that you’ve registered it, you can rest assured that it will always be under your control. Right?
Most of the time yes, but, sadly, sometimes no. When the answer is “no”, things can go very wrong.
The domain registration process is not well understood by most people, especially non-technical entrepreneurs. The actual registration system is both very technical and hidden under layers of abstraction. People often confuse domain registration with their website or email or DNS. It’s no wonder that people get this wrong.
As a brief tutorial, domain registration has the ultimate control over the online identity of a business. The domain registration has settings that point to Domain Name Servers, or DNS for short. In turn, the DNS points to the associated website and email servers. Looking at it in reverse, website or email setup is governed by DNS access, and DNS setup is governed by domain registration access. The key thing to remember here is that domain registration is at the top of the hill, and if a business doesn’t control it, they will eventually be in trouble.
Many unscrupulous websites know just how valuable this commodity is. They also know that many people won’t understand the importance of domain registration and will be in a rush to register and reserve their domain name when they start a new business. Using slick online ads, these scammers trick these unsuspecting perspective business owners into registering with them, and thus locking their customers into their services. If a business tries to leave them, they can refuse to transfer the domain, or make it very difficult to do so. If the situation gets contentious, they can effectively shutdown a business’ email and take down its website; with little recourse beyond contacting a lawyer; and even that can be futile if the unscrupulous registrar is not in the United States.
But other times, it’s not a nefarious registrar, but a new business owner who doesn’t realize the importance of this key element and forgets the username and password they used to initially register the name. Forgetting that can make it very hard to reassert control, possibly having to resort to a very time-consuming exchange of documents via postal mail or faxing!
The best way to guard against these issues is to first register the new domain name with a reputable domain name registrar (such as GoDaddy.com) and to record the username/password used to do the registration (maybe with a password manager like LastPass.com). Transferring a domain to another registrar is always going to be a multi-step, time consuming process, but possible and immensely easier with a reputable registrar over one that is determined to prevent the transfer. Contrastingly, if a business does register with a reputable registrar, if they manage it properly, there should be no technical need to move it (although there are some great differences in pricing, so the reason may be financial). Most reputable registrars also include free DNS with their services. A business wouldn’t want to use that free DNS service to run an ecommerce farm, but for a small business website, it will usually be more than adequate.
Another way to make sure your registration is handled right is to let a reputable professional services firm handle the registration process for you. SpotLink is a GoDaddy reseller and can help you secure your domain name, setup your DNS, setup your email services, and point you in the direction of a good web designer to make your online image shine. If you have any questions, the SpotLink team is always available to help.
CEO & Founder