In part one of our series, we looked at how hacking can cause disaster for websites for apartment buildings. But another common occurrence has to do with the basic hosting of a website.

The second most frequent reason we see websites go down is either the domain name or hosting has expired. This most often happens because you don’t have the domain name set up to auto-renew or the credit card on file isn’t valid and service lapses.

In the case of a domain name, there is a grace period of 30 days and during this time, you can get your name back for a fee (we recently paid $80 but your fee may vary). If the grace period expires, a third-party can swoop in, legally purchase your domain, and then hold you hostage and try to sell the domain back to you for a hefty profit or redeploy the domain for their own purposes. We have seen this happen to clients and there isn’t anything you can do once you’ve lost your domain.

We’ve also had customers call us to help them restore their hosting after an expiration only to find that the person who was administering their site has passed away. If you are using emails related to the domain, that is usually enough to get the hosting company to give you control back, but in the case of property websites, users often have corporate emails, rather than a property specific emails tied to the website in question. In the latter case, it’s more difficult to restore your site.

To prevent your domain from expiring, it’s a good idea to set it up to be registered for a long period (which is also good for SEO) and to make sure the auto-renew feature is turned on. Periodically check to make sure your domain administrator information is up to date. Make sure you have a login that allows you to access your hosting, and if your web developer is a one-man shop, set the administrative contact to one of your corporate email addresses. Given the high rate of industry turnover, this should ideally be a generic email that forwards to someone, like webmaster@yourcompany.com, rather than an individual employee who may leave and have their email address disabled.

Generally speaking, most apartment website hosting disasters can be solved if you have the right logins and act as soon as you notice something is wrong. Here’s a check list of everything you should have at your fingertips in case disaster strikes.

  • Login information to your domain registrar – where you registered your domain (e.g. GoDaddy, networksolutions.com, etc.) or a phone number and email address for the person at your website development company that registered it for you
  • Website hosting administrative login
  • Login to your website back end
  • FTP login (lets you access individual sites)
  • Website hosting administrative login
  • Login to third-party backup systems (if applicable)

Armed with this information, a skilled professional will have everything they need to fix most problems with websites for apartment buildings.

With a little preparation, you’ll enjoy trouble-free website hosting, but if disaster strikes, you’ll know where you need to begin to get your website back online.

As always, if you need anything, we’re here.