I know it’s a horrible thought. One day you’re sending emails back and forth to your webmaster, happily updating your web site with your requested changes, and the next day there’s a void in the Internet because your webmaster has met an untimely demise. That, or he’s vanished to a private island near Fiji and changed his name to Lutunasobasoba.
So, after an appropriate time of mourning, you start to wonder… “What about my website? What if I want to make changes? What if my email stops working? Who do I contact if I want to change hosts (and what the heck is a host anyway)? HELP!”
All kidding aside, many webmasters are inadvertently the gatekeepers of websites, holding the keys (information) that ensure a website stays up and running. Whether your webmaster is hit by a bus, goes out of business, skips town or *gasp* you decide to hire someone else to maintain your site, if you don’t have this vital information in your hands PRIOR to his departure, you’ve got a rough road ahead of you.
Get Your Website’s Vitals
You need to know the following information about your site. If you don’t, I suggest you make it a priority and get it as soon as possible:
DOMAIN NAME (www.yourcompany.com)
- Who did you register (purchase) your domain with? GoDaddy, Register.com, Network Solutions, for example.
- In whose name was the domain purchased? Check the WHOIS database to ensure you are the owner on record. If not, rectify this immediately.
- What is the User ID and Password to access the site? You need to know this so that you can manage your domain.
- When does your domain name expire? You can find this out from the WHOIS database as well.
- Be sure your domain name is in a “locked” status. This will prevent someone from transferring the domain to another registrar without your permission.
WEB HOST (where your website lives)
- What is the name of your web host? Check out Netcraft to get detailed information about a domain, including host and IP address.
- Whose name is the hosting account under? It should be yours. If you’re not getting an invoice for your hosting direct from the service provider, it’s time to find out why.
- What is the account name and password to access the host? You’ll need this to see what kind of a hosting plan you have, to create new email accounts, and manage your account overall.
- What is the FTP address and password? This is typically the same as your user ID and password, but not always. Your webmaster needs this in order to send files (updates) to your server.
- What is the name of your database(s) and passwords for the same? For example, to access your MySQL database a unique name and password is typically assigned.
- What email accounts have been set up and what are the assigned passwords? It might be a good idea to see if you need to delete any old email accounts and consider changing your password(s) as well.
- How do you access WebMail, if available? It’s typically a URL such as www.yourcompany.com/webmail.
In addition to above, if your website has any special applications/programs running that require a user id/login, be sure you know this information as well. These applications might include a shopping cart (ecommerce), real estate listings, CMS (content management system), site statistics, etc.
Last, it’s probably a good idea to change all of your passwords for the above accounts and others you might have. Be careful though; changing your password to your MySQL database, for example, can cause some of your databases to stop working and throw various error messages.
The answers to the above questions may not make complete sense to you, but what does make sense is that with this information you are now, truly, the master of your domain.
Of course, you still need to find a replacement webmaster to take on the important task of maintaining your website, in case yours ends up sipping umbrella drinks somewhere in Fiji. But, that’s another article.