You absolutely need to keep a record of your domain registrar login.
I have no idea what a domain registrar is. What are you talking about?
Your domain registrar is the company where your domain was purchased and registered. If you bought your domain at Godaddy then they are your registrar. If your domain was purchased at Network Solutions, then Network Solutions is your registrar, and so on. You get the idea.
I don’t know where my domain was purchased. How do I find my registrar?
Whois.com is your answer. Go there and plug in your domain in the “Who Is” box in the top right and it will return something like this:
Right next to “Registrar” will be the name of your domain registrar.
Why is this important?
Now that you understand what a registrar is, and hopefully who yours is, I’ll explain why having your registrar login info is so important.
Let’s say you’ve just hired someone like me to redesign and rebuild your website. That’s a considerable amount of money you’ve spent. And, what, 500 emails going back and forth during the process? And now you’re ready to go live.
Your web developer says to you “Ok let’s launch this thing. I just need your Godaddy login so I can point the domain.” And you think “Shit. I don’t remember my Godaddy login.” Well then we have a problem.
A website cannot “go live” on your domain without being able to login to your registrar account
And here lies the problem. Your new website launch is now delayed until you figure this out. “Can’t my web developer just work some internet voodoo and put it up?” No, they can’t.
When a web user (aka a potential customer of yours) types in your domain, say thiscoolsite.com, in their browser a series of events takes place behind the scenes. The most important is the user’s browser asks their internet provider’s DNS server “Hey I need thiscoolsite.com, where is it?”
The DNS server, which is more or less the internet’s phonebook, says “Ok no problem, that site is at IP address 22.214.171.124” and the browser goes there to download the website. Your domain is like your name and your web server’s IP address is like your phone number. DNS servers connect a name to a number so people can reach you.
If I, as a web developer, cannot login to your registrar to change your domain’s “phone number” then your site will stay pointed to your old number. Your old out-of-date website lives at that number.
Here’s where it can get worse
When you hired me to redesign your site, maybe you told your current web company “Hey Old Web Company, we’re done with you on August 30th.” and they responded “Ok no problem. We’ll stop billing on August 30th. Thanks for being our customer.”
What they didn’t tell you is they will also be deleting the files for your old out-of-date website on August 30th.
Fast forward to August 25th. Your awesome new website is ready. You’ve prepared an email to go out tomorrow announcing the launch of the new site.
Except that damn missing domain registrar login. That launch email will have to be delayed. Maybe your new ads will have to wait. AND YOUR OLD WEBSITE WILL BE DELETED IN FIVE DAYS.
Here’s what happens when a potential customer of yours goes to thiscoolsite.com and the DNS server sends them to your old web server and your old website has since been deleted:
That’s right. That potential customer sees nothing.
Now you’ve got a new website waiting in the wings, delayed launch announcements, and A DEAD WEBSITE.
This sucks. How do I prevent this?
Find out who your domain registrar is right now if you don’t remember what company it is. If WhoIs shows you it’s Godaddy then go to your email and search for Godaddy. Look for an email from Godaddy from around the time you bought your domain. It should contain your login info. Even if you’ve changed the password at some point and can’t remember it, you may have an email from your registrar showing your customer number or some other identifying info about your account.
Once you have that, call the company and have them walk you through doing a password reset. They will make you jump through a bunch of hoops to do it but it’s better than a dead website.
My old web company bought my domain for me. What do I do?
If your old web company purchased your domain for you then technically THEY own the domain. This is fairly common and is a bigger hassle to deal with, but not the end of the world. If you’re lucky, they simply purchased the domain on your behalf and sent you the login for the registrar account and you just forgot. Search your email.
If the old web company purchased the domain with their own account then you will have to coordinate an ownership transfer. This is mostly painless but takes a few days in most cases. The one upside to this particular situation is you can ask the old web company to point your domain to your new website for you. And the ownership transfer can be initiated right after. Unless they’re awful people they should have no problem doing this.
Now you get it.
As you can see, something that seems so trivial at first can become a very bad situation. You might be surprised at how many clients don’t have this info when I ask for it. It’s almost all of them.
Your web developer will be so happy.