Things to Avoid
When someone sets out to have their first website they often get drawn into making the sort of mistakes that they later regret but find it difficult to undo. Here are some of the things to avoid.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will often provide free webspace with their account. This sounds attractive, but beware! It is there for a reason.
Normally this means you have a domain name like josephbloggs.freeisp.com where your own name or other word is included together with the ISP's domain name. You get your website done, test it out and let all your friends, contacts and colleagues know the address. This all works fine for a while, and you get other sites linking in to yours.
A year or so later you realise that your ISP no longer offers the best value or service for your broadband connection and decide to change. You then realise you will lose this free space, and that even if you get new webspace elsewhere the address will be different and all those contacts and links will have to be notified. You cannot notify all those other people who had found your website and bookmarked it, so you decide to stick with your current ISP and pay the extra £2-3 per month or whatever. This works out at £48-£72 extra over 2 years - many times more than using independent web hosting via Minim!
Even if you get your own domain with the free hosting you are likely to find there is a transfer or exit fee if you wish to move it (or the hosting) away from that company. You might also find that the company has registered the domain with themselves as the registrant and not you - in which case you have no ownership rights for that domain - see below.
Unscrupulous Domain Registration
Several clients have come to me with problems after a company has registered a domain name for them - sometimes an ISP but more often an unscrupulous web design company - and later they find they don't own the domain at all!
When a domain name is registered, for example josephbloggs.co.uk, then an associated registrant's name and contact details are entered. If these are not those of Joseph Bloggs but of the unscrupulous company, then they and not Joseph Bloggs are the legal owner of the domain. Joseph Bloggs has no rights to it and must rely on the goodwill of the company - if any - to change the details. Legal challenges to this are usually unsuccessful.
So if you need a domain name, either register it yourself with one of the many companies which specialise in doing this (123-Reg, LCN, 1&1, etc.) or have Minim do it for you. If done as part of a website project it will cost no more and will be registered in your name. See more about domains.
Expensive Domain Registration
The specialist domain registration companies will charge less than £10 inc. VAT for registering a UK domain for 2 years. Some large well known directory companies charge £75 or more (plus VAT) to do the same. Avoid them!
Domain Renewal Scams
Many people have been caught out by mails sent from apparently official organisations such as the "Domain Registry of America", saying their domains are about to expire and asking them to renew via a link. Unless this is is a mail from the registrar you used when you registered the domain, then ignore it! One client paid £50 to renew his domain in this way: his £50 was taken and his domain (which was not due for immediate renewal) was not renewed either.
Don't Lose Your Domain by changing your e-mail address
When you register a domain you are asked for an e-mail address. Many people then give their current e-mail address such as email@example.com. A year later they change ISP to Virgin or BT and their e-mail changes. When they are sent a (genuine) domain renewal reminder from their registrar, this e-mail goes nowhere and the domain is not renewed. Their website disappears and unless they are on the ball they may lose the domain completely.
Be sure to update your contact information at the domain registrar so this doesn't happen.
Most of the above problems are avoided if you have Minim register and manage your domain for you.
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