Quite often when we get a new client they will tell us proudly: “We have already registered a domain”.
I know they feel good about this but my heart sinks. Which registrar is it with? Which ISP? Do they have a control panel? If so, do they have the password? Can you change the IPS tag from the CP? Can you repoint the DNS? Change the nameservers?
A quick guide to the technobabble:
IPS tag: A short sequence of letters and numbers that identifies the registrar with control over the domain name
DNS: The system that determines which physical computer or web host a domain name points to. If you change the physical location of your web site files you have to re-point the DNS so the domain name sends the browser to the new location
Name server: A computer on the internet that translates your domain name to a numerical value (IP address) that points to your website.
Registrar: The organisation that registers your domain name for you. When we host your website for you we set up the website on one of our (Webfusion) servers. We need to transfer the domain name to our registrar (123-reg) which involves getting the existing registrar or ISP to change the IPS tag. Sometimes this can be done through a control panel the client has access to, but you may have to ask the registrar – often by fax – to do this for you. The ‘work’ involved on the part of the ISP is a few mouse clicks and the entry of a few characters into a box, so why does this so often prove difficult?
Well, some clients have had domains registered for years. They may just be paying a ‘parking’ fee, but others will have been sold a full hosting package which they did not need at the time and which they are not using. Such accounts are good cash cows for ISPs and when they are asked to change the IPS tag so we can gain control over the domain they will make it as difficult as possible as they have nothing to gain and a bit of regular income to lose.They also want to sell you a hosting package hemselves (if you do not already have one). The answer is to be firm and be persistent. In the case of a .co.uk or .org.uk domain name you can as a last resort get Nominet (the authority in ultimate charge of UK domain names) to change the IPS tag for you, but there is a charge for this of £80.
Because too many ISPs are difficult about changing the IPS tag we much prefer to register your domain name ourselves. We charge £10 to register a .co.uk domain and put up a holding page. (Once you have a web hosting contract with us we incorporate the regular renewal charges for your domain in the annual hosting fee).
The moral of this article is: if you are thinking of a website for your business and you do not yet have a domain name, then get your chosen web design company to register the domain for you; it will be much simpler and usually cheaper than doing it yourself. (If you have a domain hosted with us and want to move to a different web hosting provider we will change the IPS tag within 48 hours via a simple email request with a follow-up phone call. We do not usually charge for this)