The company you registered your domain name with, or currently renew it with, are your registrar. They are the 'keeper' of that domain name for you. These are authorised re-sellers of domain names. If you have a domain name and you renew it, great, you have used a registrar. Know who your registrar is. Seriously. If you are reading this and do not know this or are unsure who this is, please find out. Search your email or do a lookup of your domain name, but do, please, find out who your registrar is.
Some popular registrars include:
- Media Temple
OK, you have a domain name and you know who the registrar is, excellent! Next question: Do you have access to your registrars "Control Panel"? If not, try to find it, or use the "Forgot password?" procedure to reset it.
You're now logged into your domain registrars "Customer Area"? Good. Here, you can likely view your past invoices, see when the domain(s) needs renewing or expire and update your contact details.
Amongst this "Customer Area", and this varies registrar to registrar, should be an "Amend DNS Settings" or "Advanced DNS" button, tab or link. This is often hidden away, with good reason.
DNS, an acronym the layman may never need to know, but if you're curious, it stands for "Domain Name Server". It is here where the domain name is told what to do. It points to various services, using its DNS Records. It is these records, that let the domain name know where to point for "Hosting your Website" (A Records) and for "Hosting your Email" (MX Records); those being the major two. Often these are split between different services.
Dabbling in these records is not for the un-initiated. Get these wrong, and it can cost you heavily. Would you be OK without your email, and every email address/employee in the business for a day, or two? Emails bouncing back to senders? Your website being unobtainable, for hours, possibly days? Your search results possibly being penalised and cast to the bottom of Google because of it?... So, you see, the domain name, an important unsung center-piece of the jigsaw.
More than twenty years of making these amends for clients and still, each click of an "Update DNS" or "Save DNS Records" button, leaves me sweaty palmed. If anybody does this and doesn't have that 'on-edge' feeling, i'd question their humanity. A double, triple, quadruple check is made before hitting that save button.
To prevent any crisis or horror stories, make sure you:
- Know your who your domain registrar is.
- Know where the DNS is pointed to, and have login details.
- Know when your domain name renewal is due (tip: set this to automatically renew).
- Pay for your renewal. If it lapses, it can lose DNS Settings or have them paused.
- When changing your domain records, have someone experienced and competent do it.