When a Web hosting service goes out of business, patrons are often left staring at a vibrant white browser window reading “Web Page Not Found.” Ideally, Web hosting businesses notify their customers their service will be discontinued, but other Web hosts may disappear overnight. Before you run a Google search and find the next greatest Web host, take a few minutes and research the domain name rights of your Web site, as well as the rights you may have to your Web page files.
Domain Name Rights
If you registered the domain name for your business with an online registrar and purchased the domain for consecutive years, the domain is yours to transfer to a new provider. However, if you utilized a free or inexpensive Web hosting service, the service provider might have registered the business domain name under the Web hosting service name.
You can check the ownership status of your domain name by using http://whois.domainpeople.com/. Although a number of domain search sites search for domain name information, be aware most of the sites also offer Web hosting, and you will be bombarded with advertisements.
A simple search of your business domain name provides all of the information you need, starting with the Domain Name and Registrar in the first few lines. Write down the name of the Registrar, such as Hostway Corporation. If your business is not the Registrant, you have two choices. You can contact the Registrant and possibly purchase the domain name, or you can change the domain name of your business and register it. For those registering a new domain name, make certain your name, rather than the Web hosting company name, is listed as the administrative contact.
If you are already the sole Registrant, you can begin your search for a new Web host provider. Most Web hosting sites like Hostway offer step-by-step instructions for transferring your business domain name.
When you selected your previous Web host, you likely skimmed through the Terms and Conditions agreement. Within this agreement, your Web host outlined your rights for accessing your Web site data. Unless the company agreed in writing to backup data, and you never created a backup of the Web pages yourself, your Web site material is lost. However if the Terms and Conditions of the Web host promised backup services, you should contact the company right away. The Web host may provide access to files or set up an alternative URL for copying your Web site data.
As you search for your next Web host provider, closely examine the backup procedures in their Terms and Conditions agreement. Many Web hosts, such as Hostway.com, offer standard backups with all of their packages.
If you backed up your Web site on a regular basis, your new Web host should have instructions for uploading the files using ftp or a similar service.
A few minutes of research will determine if you own the domain name and files or need to start your Web site from scratch.