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Maintain Your Domain

What you need to know for a website launch without the turbulence

By Skylar Kohagen

At M3 Group, we’re starting to feel a bit like the marketing version of SpaceX due to the growing number of launches we routinely perform.

That is to say: We launch a lot of websites. Last year alone we launched eight. Perhaps that makes us CyberspaceX.

Yet with many launches, there always seems to be a bit of struggle and lag right at the end when clients are eager to lift off the pad and take flight — and this struggle most frequently centers around domains.

Domains are complicated. They tie into a lot of what you need on a day-to-day business basis, including your website and your emails. One error with your domain settings can spell trouble — and M3 may have to step in as ground control to help guide you home safely. Houston, we have a problem.

In this article, we’ll bring you the straight dope for nontechnical readers regarding your domains, including:

  • Who owns your domain?
  • Where are your DNS settings hosted, and why do you care?
  • Where is your website hosted?
  • Where is your email hosted?
  • Do you have access to all these things? Or know who does?

A note to our more technical friends: There is a lot of nuance and additional things you can do with domains, DNS and hosting, but we’re going to stick to a high-level overview.

First, it’s important to discuss some terms and what they mean.

 

Domain Name

This is a name that you can purchase from a registrar for your website and/or email needs. Google has google.com, Facebook has facebook.com and we have m3group.biz, for example.

 

Registrar

This is a company that sells the right to a particular domain name. This is your GoDaddy, Namecheap, Network Solutions and a lot more. You purchase the domain name on the registrar’s website, then you can configure its settings and put it to use.

Now, you may know some of these company names for their additional services. GoDaddy, for example, has extensive hosting and email capability. So, in addition to being your registrar, it could also be your web host, email host and DNS host — but they’re not always.

 

Web Host

Also referred to as your hosting server, web server or similar title, this is where your website data lives. This data could include the actual code, the images and any downloadable documents that show up when you navigate to the domain name.

 

Email Host

Your email may or may not be hosted at the same place as your website. Some companies have separate email servers, and a lot of small to medium businesses use Office 365 or Google Workspace.

 

DNS

Oh, no — acronyms! This one sounds scary, but it’s very simple. DNS stands for domain name system. Your DNS handles the connections between your computer and the internet. You can think of this as a phone book or a directory. When someone wants to connect to your business, they use your domain name to identify you, then the DNS tells your device where to go.

Each domain has its own settings — so when someone rings up your domain, your settings tell the user’s device where to go. These settings can get fairly complex, so we won’t be talking about specifics in this post. Note that this term is almost always interchangeable with the term nameserver.

Nameserver

This is where your DNS settings are hosted. You could almost refer to this as your DNS host. By default, your nameserver is typically hosted with your registrar, but that isn’t always the case.

Whew! That wasn’t so painful.

 

The Setup We Recommend for Clients

We prefer our clients to have full control of their domain. This can be done by having the client set up the account on the desired registrar. We recommend GoDaddy. Not only does GoDaddy offer a wide range of services, but it also has a great “delegate access” feature that lets us make changes and purchases on a client’s behalf without having to share passwords.

If your desired registrar does not have a way to perform delegate access, you may end up sharing passwords, which could cause some issues and should be avoided if at all possible.

After clients have purchased the domain, they should leave their nameservers as the default at the registrar. This means that if a client’s hosting situation changes, the client doesn’t have to completely migrate their DNS.

Then the DNS simply needs to be configured per the instructions of the web host or email provider — and it’s all set!

In the future, if you’re moving firms, or launching a site, you’ll know the registration and DNS settings are located at the registrar.

 

Own Your Stuff

We can’t stress this simple fact enough — OWN YOUR STUFF! Put simply, always register your own domain names. GoDaddy has made it incredibly simple to do that. Just create an account (if you don’t already have one), search for the domain name you want and buy it. If you let a third party buy a domain for you, then at some point you’ll likely want control of that domain. That transfer can result in agony, but it also can be avoided by always owning your own domain names. Just do it. You can thank us later.

 

Common Scenarios

I need email and a website, but I don’t have a domain name.

  • Purchase your domain name at a registrar.
  • Change your nameserver if your DNS will be hosted elsewhere.
  • Configure your DNS settings to work with your web and email host.

 

I already have the domain name, but I need to launch a new site.

  • Update your DNS settings with the new web host address.

 

My domain is registered by someone else; I’d like to take control.

  • Identify who owns the domain.
  • Identify where the DNS is hosted.
  • Collect all DNS records.
  • Purchase and execute a domain transfer.
  • Add the DNS settings at the registrar.
  • Update the nameserver to point to your registrar.
  • Remember our point about “owning your stuff” from above — and don’t ever do this again.

Confusing? It can be, but the professionals on staff at M3 Group are here to help spare you the trauma and drama. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance for anything regarding your domain. We can make your website launch a smoother experience where you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

To infinity and beyond!


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M3 Headquarters
221 W. Saginaw St.
Lansing, MI 48933

 


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1234 Washington Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226