Don’t Let Your Website Become a Hostage

by | Mar,2024

As a web developer intermediary, I’ve seen countless frustrating situations where website owners relinquish control of their domain and hosting to their developers. While a developer is crucial for building and maintaining your website, giving them complete control over your online presence can lead to a nightmare scenario. Here’s why you should take charge and some real-life cautionary tales I’ve encountered – I have changed names and business types to save identities.

Why You Need Control

Imagine pouring your heart and soul into your business website, only to find you can’t access it! Here’s what can go wrong if you don’t control your domain and hosting:

  • Locked In: Disagreements with a developer can turn ugly if they control your domain. They might hold your website hostage, making it difficult (and expensive) to switch to a new developer.
  • Security Risks: If a developer manages your login credentials, they could potentially take control of your website.
  • Hidden Costs: Developers might add markups to domain registration and hosting fees, leaving you in the dark about the true cost.
  • Renewal Roulette: Relying on a developer for domain renewals can be risky. A missed renewal could result in your domain expiring and being claimed by someone else.

True Stories, Hard Lessons

These aren’t just hypothetical fears. Let me share a few examples from my mediation experience:

The Freelance Fiasco

Sarah, a baker, hired a friend to build her website. He registered the domain under his account and refused to transfer it when their working relationship soured. This resulted in Sarah having to either rename her domain and branding or take the developer to court.

Ghost in the Machine

Brian, a tech entrepreneur, trusted his developer partner with everything, including domain registration. When his partner tragically passed away, David faced a legal battle to regain control of his company’s domain due to a lack of proper documentation.

Shady Hosting

Maria hired a developer offering a seemingly affordable “all-in-one” package. Unbeknown to her the website was being hosted by a 3rd party in India, on a hosting account with 12 other sites. Hidden fees and limited control over her website were only noticed when her IT Graduate started working on the site and noticed difficulties in running updates.

Taking Back Control

Here’s how to avoid these situations:

  • Register Your Domain: Don’t let your developer handle domain registration. Use a reputable registrar and keep the login credentials safe. Your domain name is yours and should always be yours
  • Choose Your Hosting: Research hosting providers and choose one that meets your needs. Manage the account directly.
  • Clear Communication: Establish clear ownership of the domain and hosting from the beginning.
  • Make sure you have a contract: Any good developer will have a contract outlining what they are and are not responsible for.
  • Work with an Honest Developer: Find a developer who respects your ownership and provides transparent communication.

My experience has shown that a little foresight can save a lot of headaches. Don’t let your website become a hostage. Take control of your domain and hosting, and work with a developer who respects your ownership. By doing so, you’ll ensure a smooth and successful online presence.

Should you be facing a domain or hosting ownership issue with your web developer, I can’t offer legal advice. However, I’d be happy to review your case and provide some guidance. Based on my experience with similar situations, I can offer insights on potential solutions and resources that might help resolve the problem. Feel free to reach out and share the details, and I’ll do my best to assist!

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