This is an example of our work with a client who easily takes care of her website day to day, but because of bad choices made by her original webmaster, lost control of her website for a few days.
Laura, who developed and offers the anti-bullying S.A.R.A. workshops in the New York area, had spent hundreds of dollars getting a WordPress.org blog customized and linked to a pre-existing site. (Note that WordPress.com is the free blog, like the one we use for Websites 101, and WordPress.org is a whole platform that you download and customize. It’s not free, and it’s more powerful but also much more complicated to set up.)
However, the designer and webmaster, a moonlighting IT employee at an organization where Laura worked, didn’t have time to support the different components — WordPress plus outsourced template plus pre-existing site — and walked away from the project.
This became a serious problem when the hosting service, which provided no way to contact them, turned off the site without warning. And then turned it back on, then turned it off, then back on….
Laura hired us to solve the problem. We suggested she move the site and domain name to Network Solutions, a far more professional host, and moving the site went smoothly thanks to Network Solutions’ MyTime Support. (The underlying file system was a mess, but the MyTime Support folks figured it out and didn’t bother her with the details, hurrah.)
We also straightened out some problems with the template and showed her how to set up Akismet to eliminate thousands of spam responses to her postings.
How to Move a Domain and a Website
To move a domain name, you need to ask your current registrar to unlock the name (usually) and for an authorization code. Luckily, we were able to contact the domain registrar and because the “relationalaggression.com” was in Laura’s name, they unlocked the name and handed over the code without a problem. (Responsible registrars lock domain names to protect you from unauthorized transfers. Otherwise, unscrupulous third-parties can move your domain to a different registrar without your consent and, basically, hold it for ransom. See Domain Name Tip: Lock Them or Lose Them.)
However, even if the domain name isn’t in your name — for example, the webmaster set it up under his own name, which we’ve seen happen — you can work with the new domain registrar to prove ownership. They have a form you can fill out and fax to them.
As for switching hosts when you can’t reach your current one, once you sign up with the new host and move the domain name, the old relationship is over. Just be sure they don’t automatically renew your site using your credit card.
Note: If the old company does charge you again, you can get help from your credit card company. First try contacting the hosting company to cancel and if that doesn’t work, tell the credit card company that the charge is unapproved; send them your documentation. They often succeed where we everyday consumers can’t.