Small Business Website: Accounts and Passwords
Posted by Kevin McLeod • 01.12.2009
Recently, a number of my clients have had trouble understanding all of the usernames, passwords, registrations, admin access points, control panels and so on associated with their websites. I have probably written four separate emails this week explaining the different usernames and passwords and why each is important. Honestly, it isn’t easy understanding all of this stuff and I don’t blame anyone that is confused by the mess of usernames and passwords associated with their small business website. To save myself and my clients time, I’m simply going to write a single blog post to explain the different usernames and passwords in plain english.
OK, so there are basically four administrative accounts that all small business website owners should be aware of.
- Domain Registrar. This is the place where you bought your domain (ie. GoDaddy.com or Netfirms.com). Although it probably only cost you $10 – $50 per year, this is by far your most important username and password because it controls the switch that tells the entire internet where to send your emails and which server your website is on. All small business owners should have the username and password for their registrar locked up in a safe place because if the wrong person gets a hold of this account, they can steal all your emails and website traffic and there will be little to nothing that you can do about it. I’ve seen it happen and believe me, when you have hundreds people visiting your website each day, this can really hurt.
- CIRA. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority is the body that regulates all .ca domain names (.com domain owners can skip to #3). If you have a .ca domain name, the CIRA will have given you an account on their website. This account let’s you confirm with them any changes that you make to the contact information for the person that owns the domain. Without this account, you will not be able to remove your old web designer’s email address and replace it with yours. In the eyes of the CIRA, this means that your old web designer still “owns” the domain. I’ve seen many small business people not be able to regain control of their domain and were forced to fill out a bunch of CIRA forms to prove that they were the true owners.
- Webhost (aka. your server). This is the account that let’s you log into the server where the files and database that make up your website are housed. For most small business websites, this is usually a shared server at a company like GoDaddy, Site5 or 101sitehosting.com. The important point here is to understand that this account logs into the machine that “serves” your website to the world. Some people get confused because they buy their hosting and their registration from the same company so they don’t differentiate between the registrar and the webhost. To add to the confusion, your FTP username and password is just a simpler way of accessing the files on your server using a program like Filezilla. Web designers like FTP access because it helps them work more efficiently.
- Content Management System. This last account lets you login to the administrative area of the software program that your web designer has used to build your website. If you have a website that has been built with Joomla, WordPress or Drupal, then your site has an administrative area that you can access to view all the content, extensions, modules, plug-ins, users and so on within your site.
I hope that makes sense but if not, please comment and I will clarify. To make things easy for my clients, I have created a administrative information form that I use to capture all of these details before I begin any work. Feel free to use it and if you have any questions, just drop us a line.