Own thy domain

, posted: 31-Jul-2012 16:08

Domain names are the street addresses of the internet.  From google.com, to nzherald.co.nz to geekzone.co.nz, most of us will easily identify our favourite sites by the address we type in the bar at the top of our browsers.

If you want a website, whether it's for personal reasons or for your business, having a domain name is a must.  They are also very popular - Verisign counts 233 million domain names globally, a growth of 23 million since Q1 2011.  New Zealand's .nz namespace is popular as well, with nearly 490,000 domains at the end of June this year.

One technicality that most newcomers don't understand is who owns their domain name. In their minds, they paid a hosting company/web designer for it, so they must own it right? Maybe not.

A recent thread from Geekzone user networkn reminded me of this issue - to summarise, a client paid a developer for their website, however instead of registering the domain in the client's name, the developer registered it in their own name.  It may seem like a subtle difference, but it is a big problem.  Legally, the domain belongs to the developer.  If the client ever wants to move away from that developer, they won't be able to, as they don't technically own their domain name.

We see this issue that networkn describes often, as new clients have no idea who owns their existing domain name.

How can I be sure who owns my domain?

Check with whoever registered your domain name that you are the legal owner, or if you can, register the domain yourself.  With every domain you can check the ownership and other technical details by doing a WHOIS - I tend to use Godaddy for .com's and the Domain Name Commission for .co.nz's.  A sample whois record, from our main domain name 3bit.com, is below:

3Bit Solutions Ltd
Level 1, 6 Railway St
Auckland, Auckland 1023
New Zealand

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: 3BIT.COM
Created on: 14-Aug-08
Expires on: 14-Aug-13
Last Updated on: 30-Jun-12

Administrative Contact:
Dunn, Nathan hostmaster@3bit.com
3Bit Solutions Ltd
Level 1, 6 Railway St
Auckland, Auckland 1023
New Zealand

Technical Contact:
Dunn, Nathan hostmaster@3bit.com
3Bit Solutions Ltd
Level 1, 6 Railway St
Auckland, Auckland 1023
New Zealand

Domain servers in listed order:

Registry Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Status: clientRenewProhibited
Registry Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registry Status: clientUpdateProhibited

The registrant is who owns the domain.  The registered through is the registrar, or who you used to acquire the domain.  The administrative and technical contact are self explanatory.

Hopefully this helps keep you from being unnecessarily held to ransom by your web designer or hoster.

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nate's profile


I'm Nate Dunn, and I work for 3Bit, own Tuihana Cafe, and am a moderator here at Geekzone.

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The views and opinions represented on this blog are personal and belong solely to the blogger and do not represent in anyway those of 3Bit Solutions Limited or any other company.

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