Why You Need To Know Your Domain Name Registrar and Web Hosting Information

Recently, our lead designer posted a blog about why you should hire a professional designer to build your business website. It’s a question I’ve answered on a pretty regular basis since 2000 when my dad asked my then boyfriend, “Why would a business pay thousands of dollars to you guys, when they could just hire a high school kid to build a website?” After all these years, we still get asked some variation of that question.

It got me thinking. What other web industry terms or ideas seem to baffle a lot of our business clients? Domain Name Registrar and Website Hosting! What’s the difference and why do you need to have access to both? There are zillions of resources out there for this information. But, I will explain it like I would have explained it to my dad.

Your domain name is like the label on a file. Your website is the file itself and everything that makes your website work – content, graphics, photos, code – are all the papers inside that file. The server that holds your website is like the file cabinet. The website hosting company is like the room holding that file cabinet.

Domain Name Registrar

The registrar is the company in charge of reserving domain names like terrostar.com or nytimes.com. When you reserve a domain name, you get to make a label with your new name and stick it to that file in your file cabinet. You become the registrant. But, that registration expires.

Often, people register a domain name for one to three years, but you can register them for up to 10. So, when you register your domain name, be sure to keep your account credentials somewhere handy. Know WHO (the company/registrar) you reserved your domain name with and WHEN it expires.

Why is this important?

As the expiration date approaches, you’ll start getting letters from other registrars notifying you that your domain is about to expire and it’s time to renew. (This information is available to the public, by the way.) They’re kind of sneaky too. If you read them carefully, you’ll find that what they’re really saying is, “Hey your domain is expiring! Why don’t you register it with US now?” If you’re not paying attention, you’ll end up transferring your domain registration to another company. This becomes problematic when you receive similar letters from your actual registrar and from other registrars.

Now, let’s take it a step further… What happens if you let your domain expire?

Your website goes down and your domain becomes available to register by someone else. Often there’s a grace period where you can reregister your domain. Don’t risk it. How much money would you lose if your website suddenly went down?

Website Hosting

When you choose a website host, you’re essentially renting space for your website. As I mentioned in my analogy earlier, you’re paying for your space in that filing cabinet which is placed in a room. Sometimes the cabinet holds 100 files, sometimes it holds thousands making it crammed and hard to sort through. Some hosting companies will allow thousands of websites to be hosted on the same server. These budget hosts are perfect for smaller sites – ones that don’t rely on a lot of complex functions or back-end programming. Other hosting companies will limit the number of websites they allow on their server. These premium hosting companies are a better option for the larger, complex websites.

Why is it important to know your web hosting credentials?

You wouldn’t rent an apartment, move in your belongings and then not know how to get in or who manages the building. Need I say more? Hopefully, you’re actively managing your website – adding content, updating photos, creating new pages – because your business is growing and evolving. As your company grows so should your website. Your digital needs may change. So, it’s important to know when and how you might go about either upgrading or switching your hosting company.

Companies like Terrostar or a traditional IT company can help you track down your hosting credentials if you lose them. But, that takes time; it’s something we would charge you for. Plus, if you’re ready to make a hosting move because you’re developing a new website or expanding your site functionality, then your project could be delayed until the hosting credentials are acquired.

I don’t think anyone would argue how important their website is to their business. Even if you don’t understand what to do after you login to your Domain Registrar or how to transfer your website to a new hosting company, just having access to these services gives you control over them. If you’re in charge of your company’s website, find your credentials for both. Test them and be sure they work. If they don’t, track them down and keep them safe. You’ll be glad you did!