Avoid hard lessons – Get your hosting on a safe footing

Imagine if your host disappears off the face of the planet

Your website will disappear too. OK, you’re still in Google and Bing’s search results. But if someone clicks on your link they just get an error message. Their server – and your url – are completely dead.

At the same time your email addresses disappear. Customers can email you if they know your address. But their messages will just bounce back with no explanation. A nightmare. As far as searchers, prospects and customers are concerned it looks as though you’ve gone bust.

Can you get your website back if your host fails?

Provided you’re the registered owner of the url, and you can contact your host to request a transfer, you’ll be able to get your url back and upload your files to a new host.

If your host is the registered owner of your url you can’t do anything without their permission. If they’ve gone bust you’ll probably find it a challenge to contact them. Even if you do, reclaiming your url will almost certainly be a matter for the official Receiver’s discretion.

The result of losing your url completely? You’ll have to start from scratch. With luck you’ll be able to re-secure your url when it expires. But expiry might not be due for several months, even years. Worse still you’ll lose all the SEO juice – all that lovely visibility – that your original url had built up.

How do I know all this? Experience, that’s how. Like a twit I didn’t realise until it was too late how important it is to legally own my url. The result? A frantic week spent persuading all sorts of people to help me contact my defunct host. Negotiating with their suppliers, talking to solicitors and legal helplines, emailing and telephoning overseas partners, debtors, fellow host-less businesses and more. Finally, in desperation, I sent them a begging fax. Then a begging letter by post, hand written for extra personal impact. Slipped into a greetings card. Talk about pulling out all the marketing stops.

A couple of days later my url was pointed at my new host and I started re-building my freelance copywriting site. And this blog. Phew. The moral of the story? Check your url is registered to you, not your host. If it is registered to your host, or to someone else, ask your host or re-seller to get it changed asap. And don’t forget to back up your website files.