How To Host A Website
by Jo Shaer, on November 30, 2012
For many small businesses, getting their website online will be put into the hands of their web designer. And, for an unlucky few, this can turn out to be a big mistake.
How can I tell if my existing website has been set up correctly>
Go to domaintools.com and type in the name of your website's domain. It will be something like http://www.NameOfYourBusiness.co.uk.
Scan down the list and look for the Registrant. It should say your name or the name of your business.
Under Registrant's Address, it should list your address or that of your business.
If it says anything else, you do not own your domain name and will need to make some changes to the set up with your Registrar. For domains that are .com, .org, .net, this can be done when you log in to the place where you pay to renew your ownership annually.
But .co.uk is rather different, this has to be changed through Nominet, the governing body that monitors all domains that have UK in them. So that's .co.uk, .org.uk, etc. Find out more about how to do this transfer here
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How to set up your domain and hosting correctly from the outset
Buy Your Own Domain Name In Your Name As Registrant
If a website designer purchases a domain name on behalf of the customer, some may register it in their own business name. This means that the customer is not actually the legal registrant or owner of their own domain name.
If you are buying a dot co dot uk domain name, these also have to be registered with Nominet.org.uk who are the arbiters of UK websites. If your domain has been registered with another individual's name, it can cost you money to re-register it so it is better to get it right in the first place.
Insist on Your Own Individual CPanel Hosting
You see, for ease of management, many web designers will have one hosting account which they will split into different sections that they can access easily using only one login.
The problem comes when a designer starts to charge large sums of money for the privilege of hosting and managing your website and you decide you want to move your website to a different host. If you don't have your own cpanel log in, you do not have full control of either your hosting or your website.
The Cost of Website Hosting
Most hosting companies will charge around £3-5/month to allow you to put your website online. And some like TSO offer free customer service via onsite dashboard, email or a free telephone number. But, if you don't want to be bothered with all that and you have a domain-based email that you want linked up and it's all too technical, you prefer to have managed hosting through a third party. Costs of this tend to be from £72 upwards with most companies charging around £100-150, although there may be VAT to add to this.
How To Change Your Website Hosting
If you are going to have a complete redesign, this is easy. Your new designer just builds you a design on the new hosting and then, when he is finished, you point your domain from the existing hosting to the new account - each has a series of letters and numbers to distinguish them.
However, it becomes more complicated if you don't want to change your website design.
Let's try to make it simple. Your web designer builds your website on a cloud up in the sky and points your domain at it. If you want to change it to another cloud, you have to build it again on that new cloud.
Why Your Own CPanel Login Is Important
Now this is not difficult, providing the website has been set up properly on the first cloud. If there is only one website on your cloud, it will have what is known as a cpanel to access it. The cpanel is an individual login that allows you and the web designer to access all the individual elements of your hosting. If you want to move your website, the new host can use this to access all the information he needs to make a transfer of the entire site onto a new cloud.
However, sometimes web designers put more than one website onto the same cloud - and they all share the same cpanel access log in. This means that it becomes much more difficult to identify the individual features (or database) of any one website on that cloud and that makes it much harder to facilitate the transfer. It also means that if the web designer gives those login details to another host, he may be compromising the security of the other websites on that cloud.
As a small business owner, it is vital that you insist on having your own cpanel access for your website if you want to retain any control over that website. If you don't have it, you could only have access to the content management system which allows you to add or edit certain parts of the data on there. And you could be stuck with expensive hosting that you don't want until you decide to redesign the entire website.
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