You’ve worked hard to build a website that provides benefit to your customers round the clock. The last thing you want to hear is that your website isn’t online. No, your site hasn’t been hacked by some bored teenager or international blog infiltration ring. It’s being held hostage by the very people you paid to bring your site online – your hosting company. Think it can’t happen to you?
Last Thursday, I launched my favorite Twitter tool, HootSuite, but it was down all day. Turns out that other popular sites like FourSquare and Reddit were also down because of server issues at Amazon – their hosting company. These sites were unintentional hostages for the day, but some small businesses have recounted the horrors of dealing with their hosting company intentionally holding their sites hostage.
Reasons Your Site is Being Held Hostage
Generally, hosting providers do not purposely set out to hold your site for ransom; however, it’s still a rather common occurrence. It’s usually the result of a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication that goes unresolved.
- You forgot to pay their invoice. Most of us have been guilty of letting a bill slip through the cracks from time-to-time. Even those bills set to auto-pay via credit card can go unpaid when you forget to update the new expiration date for your card.
- You violated the terms of your hosting agreement. Do you know the terms of your hosting agreement? Is that joke, picture, or post on your site a violation? Did you unknowingly publish a guest post that was copyrighted material? Did you forget to add the necessary disclaimers on your endorsements?
- They own your website address. Some hosting providers, especially free hosting sites, own the rights to your website address. This means that if you decide to change providers you will also have to change the address of your site.
- Your hosting company goes out of business. There are many hosting companies from which to choose. It’s important to do your research when deciding where to host your site. There’s always the risk that the cheapest providers may lack the necessary funds to stay in business effectively stranding your site permanently.
How to Prevent Your Site From Being Held Hostage
Fortunately, it’s easy to ensure that your site isn’t held hostage by your hosting provider. Here are the steps you need to take.
- Make sure your contact information is current. Most issues with your hosting company can be avoided simply by making sure they can get in touch with you. This is almost always via email. Provide a second email address, and make sure your primary is always up to date. Don’t forget to safe-list your hosting provider’s email address.
- ALWAYS own your website’s address. If you can’t resolve an issue with your hosting provider, owning your website’s address means that you can point it to a new hosting provider. If you must use a hosting provider that owns the website address, buy a separate address to give your customers and redirect it to your site.
- NEVER buy your website address from your hosting company. Most hosting companies offer discounts, or free domain names, if you use them for both your site’s name registration and hosting. While this is convenient, it also leaves your website at the mercy of that one company. If you’re using your domain name for your email then they effectively control it too.
- Back up your site frequently and regularly. If you don’t have a current back up of your site to move to a new hosting provider then none of the above suggestions matter. Take advantage of your hosting provider’s back up utilities to always have a copy of your site available, but make sure you also have a current copy available offline or at another online location.
Have you ever had your site held hostage by your hosting provider? How did you resolve the issue? What ways have you ensured that your site is never out of your control? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Photo Credit: ransom.sytes.org