Years ago, it seems, web hosting providers and web developers offered a nice service to folks who wanted to establish a web site. As most people know today, one of the first steps is to register a domain name. Doing that isn’t very difficult, but it can be a bit tricky to take your registered domain and point it to the right place. If you don’t do it correctly, when someone types in “www.yourcooldomain.com” the Internet doesn’t know how to make your web site show up in the user’s browser.
To help clients avoid these hassles, web developers and hosting providers began to include domain registration as a part of their service. This service made life much easier for web site owners (although it probably caused the sale of Tylenol to tank since there were fewer headaches).
As convenient as this additional service is (or was), it poses one potential problem: what happens if your developer who registered your domain for you goes out of business? Or sells its business to someone else? What happens if the developer doesn’t transfer registration of your domain name to the company buying his business? Or forgets to transfer it? Or retires and moves to Jamaica?
I’m dealing with a problem like this right now. I manage a web site for a local organization that set up its site 15 or more years ago. The organization’s domain name was maintained by the web hosting provider, a small one-man operation it seemed. He sold his business to someone else, but the web domain didn’t get transferred to the new owner. We’re moving hosting platforms, but we can’t seem to contact the chap who has our domain registration. The domain has an anti-transfer lock turned on, so it’s not like we can easily transfer the domain to our own registrar.
The lesson to be learned from all of this is that you are better off keeping your own domain name registration rather than letting someone else maintain it for you. If that someone else disappears, you could face even bigger headaches than the ones you avoided.