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There are some basic steps you can take to ease a sudden transition, I’m stating them briefly here, and you can get the full story on my blog. According to noted Web expert Leo Notenboom, owner and author of Ask Leo, here are some of the most important questions you should be able to answer:
• The name of the registrar (if you have your own domain name) and the account name and password that would allow you to make changes to that domain, such as pointing it at a different server or even transferring it to another registrar. One of the most popular Registrars is Go-daddy, but there are hundreds of resellers. if you don't know your Registrar, go to www.whois.com and enter your URL.
• The name of your hosting provider. Ideally, that would include telling your hosting provider of backup contacts in addition to the webmaster. Not to confuse you but your Registrar can also be your Host. In any case, most Hosting Services as well as Registrars will allow you to list three different role managers for contacts. This will prove to be one of the most important actions you can take, so be sure to have accurate contact info in your account records.
• Accounts and passwords to your server’s management console. Not all sites have this, but ultimately, a management console is a common approach that web hosting providers offer to individuals so that they can control the configuration of their server or their part of it.
If you are a DIY (Do it Yourself) customer, then you probably already have access to your control panel (which controls your Web content), however if you have hired a service provider to take care of all your Web work, you should keep a record of all services and the access information.
• The root or administrator account name and password, if you have a dedicated server. Same advice as above. Even if you know zero about the technology, you should have the access info that allows you control. (NOTE: If you have a maintenance contract with a provider and you then change the access codes or perform programming on your own, then you may be voiding out your contract...so read the fine print...but insist on getting the access info. )
• Account names and passwords to the appropriate login and ftp accounts used to manage the server or upload content to it. Ditto on the advice listed above.
• Account names and passwords to any applications. For example, the administration accounts used for blogs, forums, or other tools that have been installed on your server. Most businesses have a minimum of 4 social accounts related to their primary Web presence. Just because you can post to all of them with one access point, doesn't mean you can make administrative changes in the same manner. Even if you are using the same username and password..whcih is not recommended, you should have that inflammation recorded and stored in a safe location.
• An alternate contact. In many cases, your webmaster may have a trusted individual that, while not involved in your site, may be available to grant access or assist in an emergency. If you are a DIY customer you may have one contact for initial contact of all services (tier one) and various support services as back-ups. Be sure to keep a record of each support team related to each service that touches your Web site.
I'll add to Leo's comments, a couple of items that cause problems after the loss of a Webmaster:
- The Payment process - Some providers pay for services and then collect fees from the client. Not all services are paid to the same vendor at the same time, so find out payment amounts, due dates, expiration dates and who's responsible for payments.
- The site back up - Find out how the site is backed up, when it's backed up and where the backup files are stored.
- Site security - Find out who is responsible for security processes and how they security updates are applied.
The size and structure of your Web presence determines the complexity of your contingency plan.
These few steps will be a great start to helping you avoid the pain of starting all over again in case of a sudden or unexpected need to make a transition.
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