How do you lose access to your domain? There are many ways…the most common way is that the business/business owner never actually had access in the 1st place! They failed to get this information from the person who bought their domain for them.
I cannot tell you how many times I begin working with a new client on a website design or re-design/updating project and when it comes time to provide us with access to the domain registrar and web hosting, they are asking us how to do this!
Well, how are we supposed to know? We just started working with your company!
Step 1: Identify who your domain’s registrar is
This is how you do it. It’s surprisingly easy!
Head on over to whois.com and enter your website’s domain into the search bar on Whois.
The domain registrar will be clearly labeled along with more data Whois provides.
Step 2: Try to log in to your domain registrar’s website
Now that you know where your domain is registered, you should try to log in. See if your browser happens to remember the login or maybe you have it stored in Lastpass or another tool like that. Maybe you physically wrote it down in a paper notebook.
If you can figure out how to log in, this is going to be the quickest and easiest way.
More tips on how to attempt to log in
Don’t forget about password reset! The catch to using password reset here is that you couldn’t have possibly had a company-branded email before purchasing your domain originally! So, think about past emails you could have possibly used to set up your account such as an old Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook email of yours.
Also, attempt to reach out to whoever set up your website/domain originally. If that doesn’t lead anywhere, ask anyone you know that has worked on your website, email, or online presence in the past – there is a chance they could know.
Step 3: Gather proof of ownership and contact the domain registrar
If you are still attempting to regain access to your domain in step 3, good luck because you are going to need it.
This is not good. Please do not let yourself ever get in this position again!
My best advice is to gather any and all proof of ownership of your domain and the business itself. Explain to the customer service at your domain’s registrar your dire situation and let them know you have plenty of ways to prove you should have access to your company’s domain.
Honestly, I can say we have gotten to step 3 trying to help clients in the past regain access to their domain and the domain registrar could really care less. They did not waste any time letting us know they were not going to help us in any way, shape, or form.
Step 4: Buy your domain back
Step 4 is an absolute last resort and is a little out of your control. If you simply can’t regain access to your domain, hopefully, it is expiring soon and you can literally buy it right back! Whois will show you when the domain expires. 30 days after a domain expires, it can be purchased again by anyone. During the 30 day period after a domain expires, only the last owner can purchase the domain again during this grace period.
We highly recommend NameCheap for domain registration. We have well over 100 domains registered there and it is cheap and great!
Domain Registration vs Web Hosting
Before we get into the action steps, I want to quickly clarify the difference between domains and hosting. Domains and hosting are 2 completely different things that go hand in hand with each other.
Domains need to be purchased and ownership retained so you can potentially have a website populate on that domain when someone goes to your domain on the internet. You could purchase a domain solely to use it for a company email, without even having a website.
Domains are also called URLs or web addresses. They are all referring to the same thing. An example domain is yourwebsite.com.
Web hosting is needed if you want a website to populate on the screen when someone goes to your domain. ‘Hosting’ or web hosting will only populate a website on the screen if the website files have been populated and currently being hosted.
You connect your website domain to your web hosting using DNS records. This can be done by pointing NameServers to the hosting or via an A Record pointing to the web hosting’s IP Address.
Fun Facts About Domains and Hostings
You do have to have both of these things in the same place.
For example, we use NameCheap to house our domains and our own AWS Lightsail server to host our sites.
Both domains and hosting need to be renewed.
Often you can purchase more than ‘1 year’s worth’ at a time, but at a minimum, your domain will need to be renewed yearly and hosting renewed monthly.
Depending on your domain registrar and web host, DNS records may need to go in one or the other.
If you’re using NameServers to point to the hosting, DNS records go on the web host’s side. If you are using an A Record, some DNS records may need to go on one or the other.
You only need access to your domain registrar to have full control over your website.
Ideally, you have access to both. But, if you could only gain access to your domain or your web hosting, it would be much more valuable to have access to your domain registrar. You can always change web hosts with access to your domain but not vice versa.
Additional Domain Information Tools
We have 2 other websites to share with you that could help you regain access to your domain.
Leaf DNS provides more information about the NameServers and A records of any domain you enter into the search bar found on leafDNS.com along with other information that could potentially help you regain access to your domain.
Builtwith.com is another tool we use to find out more about a domain. It might not help you regain access to your domain, but we thought it fit in well with the other tools we mentioned in this article.
More on Domains and Hosting
Continue learning about domains and hosting on our website! Best of luck regaining access to your domain!