You registered your domain and launched your company’s first website ages ago. It’s 2018—do you know where your passwords are? In the last month, two companies have reached out to Laukkonen Design for help.

First case

I had designed a website in 2006 with a freelance marketing director. Instead of having the client register their domain (, the marketing director bought it for them, putting it in his name. That meant he owned it, not the client.

Then the marketing director died, and their website went down. Turns out he’d been renewing it for them for 10+ years. After his death, he stopped paying, the domain expired, and their site disappeared. Weeks later, it is still down. Now, they are struggling to get their domain back, a legal challenge that stemmed from a tragic situation.

Second case

They had problems getting email from their website, and couldn’t login to make text changes. I hadn’t designed their website, but they were a sister company of a current client, so we jumped in to help.

You’ll need a scorecard to keep track of the players in this game:

  • Company A was hosting their website, but was actually reselling hosting from Company B
  • Only Company B’s name turned up in info searches
  • Company C developed the WordPress website
  • Company D was where the client registered their domain
  • Both client and developer had lost logins and passwords
  • A PHP server upgrade caused email issue
  • Hosting account got locked due to too many login attempts
  • Client had been struggling for six weeks before we got involved
  • After much sleuthing, Laukkonen Design’s developer (an amazing partner!) had the issue resolved in three business days

What’s the lesson?

  • Think of it like this: the website is the car, your domain ( is the address, and the hosting is the garage
  • Go to ICANN, enter your domain and check to see who is listed as ‘Registrar’—that tells you where it was registered
  • Confirm that you own your domain, not a third party or freelance marketing consultant – look for invoices from the Registrar for proof
  • Find the login and password to the Registrar—in the early days, it was often GoDaddy or a similar company
  • Determine who hosts your website, and get the login and password for that account so you can login in
  • If possible, get everything under one umbrella to reduce confusion

Don’t wait for a tragedy or a crisis—gather your logins and passwords now, and share them only with 1-2 key team members. You’ll be glad you were ahead of the game—Much adieu, Karen