Over the last ten years or so we’ve helped businesses set up their hosting and we have to ask that all to common question. “Where is your domain?” Often I get that look of “HUH?” and the standard response “Well…I *PAID* someone to register the name for me.” I don’t know what happened after that. It’s not till someone’s email, website, or both are held hostage by a previous designer or worse bought out by an outside source in hopes to resell the name back at a substancial rate.
Wait, this can’t happen to me…can it?
It doesn’t always happen maliciously, sometimes it’s an honest mistake but if your web developer doesn’t attach your name or business to the dot com name it belongs to them. Remember if the domains are not registered to you at the time of the original purchase they’re not yours.
How can you check?
Simple, stop by any domain name register and look for a tab that read “WHOIS”. Enter your name of choose and follow the hoops they set out for you. Sometimes they’ll put out extra steps to prevent automated services (that usually don’t buy in) from abusing their free service.
Once all the info has cleared the service your registration info will show up. You’ll need to focus on two things: (1) make sure your name is on the registrant box and (2) know when the domain name expires. In plain english if your lose your domain or it expires you loose your site and your email will go down till you fix the problem.
What if the results aren’t what you expected?
Well don’t panic. This might have been an honest mistake. Contact your web designer or the person that registered the name for you and have them update the info. If you can’t get a hold of them you’ll have to contact the register and follow their policies. Some (such as register.com) have in the past released the name to us when we’ve shown them the invoices to prove ownership.