Every website needs a domain name so human beings can find it. However, things like domain name registration, DNS, and logins sometimes get lost or forgotten over time. Here’s how you can take a few moments right now to make sure your domain name (and your website) stays yours.
WHOIS the boss of your domain name?
So who really owns your domain name? Run a WHOIS query and find out!
Here are a couple of places you can try. Punch in your domain name, verify you’re a human, and you’ll get a long list of info:
One caveat: If you have a service called domain name privacy turned on, you might see the name of generic company that obscures the true ownership info for you; the idea is to prevent unsavory characters from automatically harvesting info from WHOIS lookups (which is also why you had to prove your humanity).
However, real ownership info is a small credibility signal to Google; it looks just a tiny bit shady when you hide who really owns your domain. It’s not a big deal, but consider switching off privacy.
What to look for in your WHOIS:
WHOIS in charge around here, anyway?
It may be right there in the WHOIS info, it might just be a quick question for your IT people, or it may take more creative detective work, but find out exactly who has the login credentials for the domain name registration account at the registrar (this will be Network Solutions, Name.com, or a similar company.)
Make sure the credentials are current and working, that there’s a plan to make sure the information is preserved and secured, and that there’s always a working credit card on the registrar account so domains can’t expire.
This is also a great time to find out what other domain names you own, and make sure they’re all set up and forwarded correctly. If domain name privacy is turned on, check the actual registration info and make sure it’s clean and correct.
A name and an email you recognize
If the domain name “owner” is long gone, or using an email no one can access, then get it fixed before there’s a problem. It’s fine if it’s registered to a role or job title instead of to a specific person. If you’re not sure, you can always just shoot off an email and see who replies.
Owned by the credit union, not a developer or hosting company
Your domain name should be owned and controlled by the credit union, not someone else. (Exception: some very large businesses and CUs use a management service to manage their domain registrations. A quick Google should clear it up if you think this might be the case for you.)
An expiration date in the distant future.
If your domain name ever expires, you’re dead in the water in many important ways: website, email, and just about everything. Make sure this never happens.
You can register domain names for up to ten years at a time and usually even get a discount, so why not go for the max?
Just be sure to keep notes, and make sure someone besides you knows how to access those records.