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Domain Name and Hosting Account Ownership.
by marjorie milliken
(Definitions of terms are below.)

If you are a person who thinks they own a domain name but aren't sure, you need to read this.

If you want to own a domain name and eventually have a website and use your own domain email address it is YOUR responsibility to understand a few things from the beginning. Learning a few driving tips will prevent crashes, confusion and a huge waste of time.

First of all there are a million "webdesigners, like me, working from home and also companies with offices downtown with salespeople and secretaries that sell you domain names and sell you web hosting that will call themselves registrars and hosting companies but they are neither. They do not own servers. They are resellers of domain names and of hosting. It's like multilevel marketing where large hosting and registrars sign up resellers and resellers get a cut. The largest domain registrars and hosting companies in the world in fact only work with resellers.

So it is important to understand what you have. Why? Because if you don't have direct access to your control panels for both your domain name and your website you won't be connected, you won't know about all the goodies, you won't be as empowered.
It is also important to understand when you are dealing with middlemen. If you do decide to have someone else solely own your domain name and control your website, at least understand what you have and what you are doing.

I hear people say, "But I am not technical. "

Owning a domain name is not technical. Signing up for hosting is not technical, if you can operate a cell phone, own a car or home, or subscribe to a magazine then you can own a domain name.

All "owning" means is that your email address is the contact on the domain name account and you are the one that renews the domain name or hosting account annually. You pay the bill directly, just like you pay your utility bills.

Why should you understand this mess! Because you will pay for it down the road if you don't, I guarantee it. I will say "I told you so".

Large hosting companies and large domain name registrars aren't going to help. They love their resellers. I am a reseller of domain names for domainpeople and I did it about ten years ago to save people money and give them more control. But I don't call myself a registrar and people who bought and still buy domain names through me get their own usernames and passwords and their email address is the contact email address. That is how I set it up. But I could have set it up so that the domain name could never be transferred and people would have to pay extra for everything.

There are two components to having a website.

First you need an address for your website - thats the domain name. Then you need to rent server space for the website files themselves. That's the hosting. Using shared servers is like going to Hawaii on a plane with 300 other people — it's cheaper sharing the plane. (You can just have a domain name and you will still be able to create email aliases and point that domain name to a folder on an existing site.)

There are two purchases to make and two bills to pay.

  • You buy a domain name from a Domain Name Registrar.
  • You purchase a hosting account from a Hosting Company.

Sometimes a hosting company is affiliated with a registrar and you can do both at the same time ( ie: netnation and domainpeople) but you will still know who your registrar is and who your hosting company is.

To own a domain name these four things must exist

  • 1. Your email address is in the admin and billing contact area of the whois record (you can see the whois record for any domain name here , you can call a real registrar to learn what is in this whois record)
  • 2. You personally know the username and password for the domain name control panel and can log into this admin area (you can create aliases, you can point the domain name somewhere and you can point the nameservers to a hosting server, and you can edit your contact information and keep it up to date when it changes from time to time)
  • 3. You know the name of your registrar and can call them on the phone and they can resend you your username and password if you lost or have forgotten it
  • 4. You get a renewal bill for the domain name directly from the registrar

If the above four things aren't in place and you thought you owned a domain name you were wrong.
No matter what the company or person tells you, ("they are holding the domain name for you, you really do own it, or they are a registrar" ) it doesn' t matter - they are misleading you and they are in control of the domain name - they own it - not you.
Why do they do this (put their email address in the whois record)? Because it is easier to do it this way than empowering people and because they make money controlling your domain name forever.
You can do a whois search on any domain name here: If the information is hidden then call a registrar.

The analogy that I use is: A person contacts a real estate agent to buy a house. They have never bought a house before and don't understand the process. So the real estate agent puts their own name on the deed and their name on your hydro bill and charge you a fee to pay your taxes and bills.
AND they, the agent, really do own your house - you use it and live in it but if you go to sell you are in a mess.

The internet only started 15 years ago and there are no professional standards for webdesigners or webcompanies. In fact many many web designers and web companies will tell you that they are hosting companies and that they are domain name registrars. But they are resellers.

I have seen many people who feel great loyalty for the webdesigner who really owns their domain name - and they have a loyalty to their web company who has misled them - but when it comes down to it eventually there is a mess to clean up.

Make sure that the domain name registrar and hosting company you want to use has an toll free phone number. When you purchase a domain name or hosting account YOU have to be the one that does it. Your email address has to be the contact email on the account. Your credit card pays directly to the registrar or hosting company.

If I had represented myself as a registrar and a hosting company fifteen years ago i would have made a ton more money.
It never seemed ethical to me - in the same way that the analogy above with the naive person and the real estate agent doesn't seem right.

I would control and get monthly and annual kickbacks for over 300 domain names and websites by now - I would become effortlessly rich from totally passive income - a multilevelmarketer's dream.

I would have passive income coming out my ears every month. But what a mess when someone finally figures it out and then i would have 500 messes to clean up.
But all I was doing was what everyone else was doing - I was helping people who "werent technical".

If you have found that you are not really in control of the ownership of your domain name you can initiate a transfer of the domain name. This will add a year to it. But the trick is you will have to get the person whose name is in the admin area to give permission for the transfer. If they don't cooperate you are sunk. I have found that sometimes people have been lucky and sometimes not. You can also initiate legal action and registrars can help you with this.

If you can't really 'own' your domain name it is best to simply abandon that domain name and start again and do it right this time.


Domain names identify a location on the Internet. It is your unique identity on the Internet and provides you with an address that other Internet users can use to find your website on the World Wide Web. You also use your domain name for your email address.

The organization responsible for the actual registration of a domain name is known as the Registrar. This is the company that you bought your domain name from. When you buy a domain name the email of the admin contact is the owner of that domain name. You will receive a username and password and a link for an admin area where you can manage your domain name. You can see the name of your registrar on your whois record.

Hosting companies offer a service where their "server"(computer) stores your web site's HTML files, and graphics for a fee.Their server allows your web site to be viewed over the Internet.

To have a website you must first own a domain name then you have to host the website files somewhere. You set up a hosting account with a hosting company to do this. Sometimes you can buy a domain name and set up hosting from one company but they are still two different animals - (hosting and domain names) or (registrars and hosting companies). A hosting company rents you space on their computers for your website. A domain registrar sells you the domain name.

The WHOIS can be used to search the registry for the owner of any domain name which has already been registered. You can also see who the registrar and hosting company is.

You can do a whois search on any domain name here:

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