Understanding the mystery of DNS, domain registration, domain pointing, hosting and other mysterious, behind-the-scenes web tech stuff is important. Your entire business rests on the good foundations of hosting, domain management and if you’re not aware of these things (or in control of them) your business could be at risk.
URL: Most of us get this one, it’s your .com or .biz, or .org. It’s the single most important thing that you have to manage. If you forget who ordered this, who pays for it, and who is listed as the registered contact, your former web person, three web developers ago might not renew this, and you might find yourself one day looking at a ‘parked’ page for your website. Your website is your hub of online operations, so no matter what, you have to know and understand WHO owns this, how it’s paid for, what intervals it’s billed and onto what card it goes. It stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Most of these renew annually but longer term timeframes of up to 5 years are available. The risk of long term agreements here is that credit card numbers change/expire/people move on and forget. We recommend annual renewal or 2-year renewal, and the credit card of the business owner with at least two people in the organization authorized to log into the account. Your web developer likely is one of these people.
Registrar: there are licensed or authorized companies that are allowed to host URLs. Used to be just a few, but now there are many. The registrar is the company that manages or holds the URL that you own. You log into this account to make changes to that URL and point it where the hosting is located.
DNS: Domain Name Servers: these controls tell the URL where to go when someone types it in. Does it go to a parked page? Another page? Your actual URL? This points to the hosting provider for your website.
Website Hosting provider: websites need a physical place to live. Think of this as the building where your website resides. Your website is a condo inside this building. Your host manages the building, it’s exterior façade, security, and the systems that keep it running. You and your web developer are the decorators, movers, and your business lives in the condo. Your web developer will help you remodel, redesign the condo. You (your business) gets to live there. Your hosting provider doesn’t care how you decorate or renovate it and they’re not responsible for it. If you open the balcony doors and someone climbs in and steals your stuff, they’re not responsible. Security within your condo is your (your web developer) responsibility. Security at the building is the host’s responsibility.
Your ‘mail’ (web traffic, email) goes to that condo via the DNS. The USPS needs to know where you live to send you mail, and if you move, needs to know where you moved. Same with DNS.
Want to know more about hosting and how quality matters? We have a blog on that.
Domain pointing: Say you have three URLs: bestbusiness.com, evenbetterbusiness.com and superbusiness.com. You only want to have hosting at ONE of these. You can point the others in two ways, standard or stealth. Standard means when someone types in bestbusiness.com it points to or sends them over to superbusiness.com (your primary URL, attached to your web hosting.) Stealth is they will still see bestbusiness.com in the URL, and go to superbusiness.com. You do not want to have three identical sites, just one.
Email hosting. You can host your email anywhere, not only at yourbusiness.com (whatever your hosting is). Although many still keep their email hosted on their web server, many use 3rd party systems like Gmail/Gsuite to host email at your URL but not at your server. So you get a @yourbusiness.com email but you don’t have to use server-based email.
You should know the credentials for your registrar, your hosting provider, your website administration area. You should know who is the owner, technical contact on your accounts and who’s credit card pays for these. You should keep all this in a safe place and have an annual review of all of these important details.
There’s a lot more to this mysterious stuff, but these basics will help you be an informed business owner!
Keep all of these details organized! Our Web Credentials organizer will help you identify and organize the information you need. Password protect this file and keep a paper copy in a safe in your office and home. Download it now: