Best Practices – Owning Your Domain Name

While most websites all use their own domain name (ex:,, etc) it’s always a good idea to make sure you actually “own” your domain name.

Sometimes when a new customer migrates their website to us we find they do not have any control over their domain name.  Maybe it was purchased for them by a friend, a former coworker, or their current web host.  To avoid surprises in the future it’s a good idea to check the owner now to make sure you actually own and control the domain name that you use, before you need to make any changes.


For domain names there is a search system called “Whois”.  With a Whois search you can determine who the owner of a domain is, the contact information, and who the registrar is.

Whois data is public information, so registrars allow domain owners to purchase a “privacy” option which hides the true owner and displays alternate contact information.  Emails can still be sent to the account holder and it will forward through the privacy system, so if you see a privacy contact on your domain name you can still email the account holder to determine who the contact is if you don’t remember turning privacy on yourself.

A Whois search can be performed on a variety of websites and we have listed two below:

Contact Records

A Whois report will display a variety of details about your domain name.  We’ll point out the most important sections below:

  • Registrant: This is the official owner of the domain name
  • Administrative Contact: The owner’s contact details
  • Technical Contact: Additional contact details, usually of the web host or a technical contact with the owner
  • Registration Service Provider (or Registrar): Your domain name provider.  You would contact this company with questions or go to their website to manage your domain name.

Do You Own It?

Your company should be listed as the Registrant and the Administrative Contact.  Most importantly, you want the email address for the Administrative Contact to be a valid email account that you have access to.  This is the email address that would be used to confirm ownership of the domain name and you can have your Registrar send the login details for your account to this address.

Making Changes

If you need to make changes to the details you see on the Whois report, you can usually do so at the Registrar’s website.  Check the “Registration Service Provider” or “Registrar” section of the Whois report and look for your Registrar’s details.

For example, this section may look something like this:

Registration Service Provider:
Your Domain Registar, Inc.

You would go to the website listed in the results for your domain name, but if your Whois details do not show a website in that section check for other contact details for the Registar.  You may need to email or call them to find out how to make changes to your domain name.

You can also contact the Technical Contact on your domain name, using the “Technical Contact” section of the Whois report.  They may be able to help you with making changes or could point you in the right direction.

While it’s not a complicated process to update your domain ownership and contact details, it’s still not something you want to have to do in a rush.  There’s no time better then now to run a Whois search on your domain, check the details, and make sure everything is accurate before the time comes that you need to make a change and find you don’t have access.

Looking for a web host that understands ecommerce and business hosting?
Check us out today!


  1. Steve G says:

    I do agree that every person with a website own and control their domain name, not letting an employee register it for them.. I also highly recommend that domain registration be kept separate from hosting.. It is less of an issue today with major hosting companies than it was in the past, but I’m not a fan of allowing one company to control my entire online life..

    I have an old web development client that lost her domain name when her hosting company/developer decided to stop doing web work and become a construction worker.. As a service he registered domain names for his clients and when he closed up shop everyone of them lost their domain to domain squatters when they expired.. Many lawsuits and lots of drama later she recovered her domain nearly 2 years later..

    • Thanks for the feedback and real world examples Steve. Making sure your domain registration is in your name and under your control, as well as having your domain with a reputable domain provider, is crucial for any website.

      We see these type of issues all too often when people try to transfer their domain to us, or when it comes to renewal time and their old domain provider can no longer be contacted.

      Each year you should take a look at your domain and make sure everything is in order. It’s 30 seconds of work to prevent hours of pain down the road.

Leave a Reply