Your domain name belongs to you and to you only!
Because of that simple fact, you want to be sure your hosting company is unable to hold your domain name hostage, in case of disagreement with your hosting vendor and/or your web designer. We have seen this scenario more often than we had expected, as prospects occasionally ask us to free them from an unscrupulous webmaster or a “cheap” hosting vendor from whom they wish to disentangle. This is why we systematically recommend separating key roles in your domain name management;
Rule #1 register your domain name with a company other than your domain name hosting vendor. Why? if you have a disagreement with your hosting company, you can always login to your domain name registration control panel and point your domain’s DNS (Domain Name System) settings to another hosting service whenever you wish to switch to a new hosting plan with a different vendor. This protects your domain name from being locked in by your hosting service in the (hopefully rare) times of dispute.
There are many other advantages in keeping your domain name registration separate from the various hosting services you may need to purchase, such as website hosting, email hosting, ftp hosting, etc., including the choice of hosting your web services in one place and your email with another vendor. Some domain name registration vendors also nickel and dime you whenever you wish to add any incremental service to your domain (i.e. URL redirects, privacy, aliasing, etc.), essentially wiping out any of the discounts that may have attracted you to their “cheap” registration fees, and, more than seldom, end up egregiously reaching deeper into your pocket.
Rule#2 when selecting a website hosting service, make sure your service includes a staging and a production platform. Staging is used for testing your content and back end changes, updating your platform, installing and testing security updates, adding content, testing out ideas, reviewing with your team, etc. away from the eyes of the public web. Once satisfied with your updates and changes, you can “push” or publish from the staging area to the production area: your live site.
Rule#3 if at all possible, make sure your hosting service provides scheduled and ongoing website back up services, independent from your own website plugins or back up tools you may have decided to install. It is better to have back up services built-into the hosting platform directly for two primary reasons: 1- the service does it automatically, regardless of your involvement with the site’s tools and 2- as an integrated website platform function, it does not bog down your own website with, yet, another plugin or another string of code that, as they add up, may affect your site’s performance and slow down your content delivery to your website visitors.
Rule #4 this one is more a piece of advice than a rule, but it does fit within this the overall topic of this post as it expands on the first rule: consider separating email from website hosting. Beyond the eggs-in-the-same-basket consideration and obvious disadvantage, it also allows for your services to not be disabled all at once, in case of down time, which is why hosting services all claim 99.99% up-time but NEVER guarantee 100% availability. The likelihood of you email server being down at the same time as your website hosting server is thus dramatically reduced, whereas the same hosting service would bring both mission critical aspects of your business to an unwelcome downtime with frustrated engineers working hard to bring your servers back up after hours of internal (and external) finger pointing… so, yeah, you want to avoid that!
Rule #5 specifically applies to your website: make sure you install Google Analytics codes into your website. Somehow, in 2017, I still see many websites with no free analytics code installed. The registration takes a few minutes, the verification a few more. You can register with Google, Bing, etc. and be sure your site is crawled, entered into the search engine’s database, and also lets you reveal far more information about your visitors than your web server traffic monitoring tools ever could surface to you. Why? because the 800 Lbs. gorilla Google also maps your data to its myriads of databases and extracts relevant information about your visitors it constantly gathers over the web.
Questions? Comments? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be glad to chat with you.