Can your website be held hostage?

Sometimes when I start work with a client, they are not able to give me all of the information that I need to do work on their website. This information is not only important for me, but it is essential for them to have it so they don’t lose control of their domain name and possibly website. Generally speaking, this shouldn’t happen, but unfortunately it can and does occur.

As the owner of a website, there are some essential pieces of information that you simply must have recorded somewhere safe. It doesn’t matter if you have zero technical expertise and someone else has built you site. You still need to have these things recorded somewhere safe.  It is also not a bad idea to have a very high level understanding of some of the basic terms used. This is especially true if you decide that you want to change your website host or switch to a new web designer.

Even if you have hired someone to build your website, you still need to have this information or you could find yourself at the mercy of your web developer or hosting company.

The purpose of this post is to identify what information you need to have recorded and why. I have also created a downloadable workbook that you can use to keep everything together in a single, easy to access place. Download it now before you start.


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Password Program

I also highly recommend that you get a program to store all of your passwords. I use LastPass which is free. Not only does this keep all my passwords safe, it autofills them for me in my browser – no more having to remember or type them in. It also means that I never use the same password from site to site and I can generate hard to guess passwords for the important websites that I need to protect from hackers.

If you set up your own website, you possibly know all of it already and can use the workbook to collate and store everything together. If you hired someone to build you site you may not have it all on hand. That’s is absolutely fine and why we are doing this exercise. It just means that you need to do some homework. It may be as simple as asking your web designer for the information or looking back through your emails, finding it all and storing it in a central location.

We are going to start with the easiest but also most important piece of information.

Domain Name / URL

I won’t confuse you with the difference between domain name and URL. Simply speaking what is the name that you type into the browser to access your website? You probably have it printed on business cards & flyers. It is key to your online presence. You need to understand a domain name is different to your website host.

You may even have multiple domain names. Eg. and which all direct the user to the same website.

Eg  (It isn’t case sensitive but generally written in lower case)

Record the following:

  1. All your domain names / URLs


Domain Name Registrar

Next we have the Domain Name Registrar. This is the company where you purchased your domain name from. When someone types your domain into a browser the domain registrar knows where to find your website files so that your website can be displayed.

Note: If you registered your domain name as part of setting up your web hosting, your web host is your domain name registrar. I personally don’t recommend this, but if that is what you have, record your host’s name and skip to the Website host section.

The domain name MUST be in yours or your companies name. You can run into problems if it isn’t. Unless you have the login details and it is registered in your name, you don’t have control of the most important part of your online presence!

Unfortunately not all companies out there are honest and if they have registered your domain name with their details, they are the owner and they can demand large amounts of money to ‘sell’ it back to you. There could also be other issues. Imagine if your web designer/developer didn’t pay the renewal bill. Your site will go offline and you could lose your domain name! It happens.

You could also find yourself unable to contact the person who set it up. This may happen because they are no longer in business, moved overseas or the relationship has gone sour. This puts you in a very vulnerable position. A domain name can be transferred, but it isn’t an easy task and you will need to prove you are the rightful owner.

If you don’t have this information you need to contact the person whose name it is registered in and get them to transfer it to an account in your name. Send an email now or get on the phone to ensure this happens. You can then sleep easier because you won’t have to be worried about your domain name being at the mercy of someone else. Your only job now is ensure you pay your renewal fees on time !!

Record the following:

  1. Name of your domain name registrar
  2. URL and login details of where the domain name can be managed
  3. The date that your domain is up for renewal (Why don’t you also put it in your calendar)


Website host

Your website host is where all the files reside for your website. It may be with a hosting company or perhaps your web designer hosts your site for you. If your web designer hosts it for you, you may not have all of this information. This is ok, but may limit you if you choose to have work done by another professional in the future. It doesn’t hurt to ask them for this information though.

If you have a hosting company, the following details are normally emailed to you when you first set up your account.

Record the following:

  1. Name of your hosting company & hosting plan
  2. Billing Cycle (Monthly, Annually, 2 Yearly, 3 Yearly)
  3. Country where your website files are located (You may have chosen this or your host may only have one location)
  4. URL for managing hosting account and login details
  5. URL for the control panel/cPanel and login details
  6. FTP address and login details



Often your email hosting is included as part of your website hosting or it may have been setup separately. Perhaps you are using a gmail address or email provided by your internet provider – If this is the case, you need to seriously look at setting up an email that uses your domain name.

Record the following:

  1. Email host – if different to your web host. Eg G Suite
  2. All email addresses that you are using for your business & their passwords
  3. POP3 (Incoming) Mail Server



Every business must have a Google account. I’m not saying to use a gmail account for your business, but you will need a Google account to set up Google Analytics for your website. You may also want to run Google adverts. The reason that you must have Google Analytics set up on your website is so that you can track the traffic on your website. Without it you are flying blind and will have no idea if your website is helping to achieve your goals or where you can improve things.

If you don’t have it set up yet, I will be creating a blog post very soon on how to set it up.

Perhaps someone else set up your analytics account?  You will need to make sure that you have been added as an Admin for your account. If you don’t have this level of access, request it now or you are at risk of losing all of the valuable data that has been recorded.

Record the following:

  1. Google account login details
  2. Google Analytics Tracking Id
  3. Other emails that have access to the analytics account



This area is going to be a bit more varied for each individual as everyone will have different systems. Even if you don’t record passwords here (Especially for PayPal and any other system that allows access to financials), all this information is useful to have in a single place if you hire a new web developer and need to let them know what needs to be integrated.

Record the Admin Console URL and login details for:

  1. Email list manager (Eg. MailChimp, ConvertKit, AWeber, ActiveCampaign, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse)
  2. Content Management System (Eg. WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, Wix, Weebly)
  3. Your website theme (if known)
  4. Any other software systems that are used for email marketing, generating landing pages etc (Eg. Leadpages, Infusionsoft, SumoMe, Thrive, GetResponse, Clickfunnels)
  5. Any accounts for online course software, online bookings etc
  6. Analytic software (Eg. Crazy Egg, Hotjar)
  7. E-commerce (Eg. PayPal, Stripe)


Social Media Accounts

I am going to assume here that if you have an online presence for your business, you have at least one social media account set up.  Just like your domain and google analytics, you need to make sure you have administrator access to all of your social media accounts. I have worked with too many people over the years who have lost access to accounts and it can really be a long drawn out process to prove ownership and get them back.

Record the following:

  1. Social media accounts that you have registered with their urls
  2. Login details for each


Hopefully you found this exercise useful. If someone else built your website it should have given you an idea of a few of things that you should have recorded somewhere safe. Even if you built your site yourself and knew everything, the workbook will give you a place to record your essential pieces of information.


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