Over the past few months we have seen a number of situations where we encounter customers that have had horrendous issues with their websites. As we work to resolve issues for these customers we often find that key information that either allows us to help them, or that would have prevented then from being in the situation that they were placed in. After seeing a number of common trends we thought it would be important to start sharing some insight on some key items that should be known by all website owners, regardless of their technical ability.
Why? I'm Not A Techie
Yes, IowaComputerGurus and companies like us exist to help users manage their websites and take the technical parts as far outside of the picture as possible. But, in the end the assets that make up a business are critical to the individual organizations so knowing at least at a high level all of the components that make up your website is critical. You don't need to know HOW it all works, but it is important to keep track of where/what makes up these critical pieces of the puzzle that is your website.
In the following sub-sections we will outline the key items that every website owner should know. These items should be recorded and stored in a safe location, as you never know when you might need them. If you lose this information very valuable time can be lost trying to secure access when something critical comes up. Being prepared is the best tool for proper management.
Domain Registration Information
The first component part of a website is the registration of your domain name. This is the securing of your URL, for your use. Typically costing between $10-20/year, your Domain Registration is your ownership of your website, if this registration expires your site will at a minimum not be available, but in extreme cases other users can claim your domain name if you leave them expired for longer periods of time.
The key pieces of information that you want to know about your Domain Registration include WHO you have it registered with (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc.) and WHAT is the account information that is associated with that registration. As a general business policy IowaComputerGurus has all customers register their own domain names to ensure that they have full control over their solution.
Domain Name Service (DNS) Entries and Hosting
Once you have a domain name secured DNS is used to direct users to your hosting environment, to configure how/where your e-mail is sent and other system configuration elements. For example if you move your website from being Hosted at Company A to use Company B you would update your DNS entries to ensure that your website can be accessed at the new hosting company.
Just like the domain registration information you don't need to know much about the specifics of what your DNS entries are, but WHERE they are stored and WHO has access. Sometimes your DNS is managed at the same location as your Domain Registration. Other times it could be managed by your hosting provider.
Hosting Company & Plan
The next most important thing to be aware of is WHO is providing your website hosting. Who is providing you with the server space to host your site. If a situation comes up that you need additional assistance from a third party it will e important to provide them the name of host, as well as plan information as to the type of plan that you have. There are many different vendors, and each have so many variations that often times it is simple enough to record the exact name of the plan so that the vendor can assess what is going on.
In the next few weeks there will be a follow-up to this posting, "Knowing Your Hosting Solution" which goes into a lot more detail on what you need to know about your hosting provider. As in the end, your hosting provider can make, or break you.
Your Application Platform
Many of our solutions are based on the DotNetNuke Platform, however, this guidance goes the same for WordPress, Joomla, or any other platform. You should know WHICH version of the platform that you are on, and when it was last upgraded. Knowing the platform and specific versions are by far one of the most key items to getting assistance and understanding any issues that might exist. Upgrading your platform is something that should NOT be taken lightly, we will follow up with another message with details on this.
The more that you can do to know the basic information about your website, the better off you will be in the future. Your website is your business, your website is your public face to the world. Be sure that you have full control of this valuable asset.