Tim Priebe

How to Regain Control of Your Website

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If you’ve lost control of your website, you’re not alone. Frequently people come to us at T&S whose webmaster has disappeared, volunteer has run out of time, or whose website is being held hostage by another web company.

While sometimes it is really gone, generally that’s not the case. Here are some ways you may be able to regain control.

1. Call or visit the person who set your website up for you.

The easiest solution is to simply talk to the person who helped you set your website up and ask them to help. Even if they don’t immediately know how help, most of the time they could help you figure it out if they really tried.

So put aside any differences, call them up, and see if they are willing to help you out.

2. Call your hosting company.

If getting the previously mentioned person to help you is out of the question, call up your hosting company. Your hosting company is basically the company that’s leasing you hard drive space for your website to be online. Just like it’s pointless to own a house without having land for it to be on, it’s pointless to have a website without a hosting server for it to be on.

It is possible your hosting server is the guy that helped you set up your website, or that he’s paying the hosting provider himself and acting as a middle-man. If so, you may have to try the next option.

But it’s just as likely that you’re paying the web host yourself. If so, you should be able to call them even if you don’t have a username and password.

Check your credit card bill for anything with the name “host” or “web” in it and give them a call. Often they will take the last four digits of your credit card as verification that you own the website, and will then help you regain control of your hosting.

3. Call your domain name registrar.

The next level up if your host can’t or won’t help you is to ask your domain name registrar. Again, while it’s possible you bought your domain through the same person (or company) that you’re using to host your domain, it’s also possible you didn’t.

To find out who your domain name registrar is, just look your domain (whatever.com) up on the website www.whois.net. Once it pulls up all the contact information, look for either “Registrar,” or “Registered through.” You can then use Google to find that company’s website and pull up their support phone number.

There are many, many registrars, but knowing five of the most popular may help you identify them:

Like the hosting companies, your registrar will probably have a method they can use to verify your identity. Then they will likely help you regain control at the domain level. You will still need to get a new website host at that point, but you won’t lose your domain name.

4. Call your lawyer and pay him to help.

Worst case, if your domain contains any words that are legally protected (i.e. trademarked), you can bring in your lawyer to help.

Of course, if you don’t want to mess with any of this, it’s much easier just to buy a new domain. But usually with some effort and a time commitment, you can regain control of your website.

Comments

  1. We hired a company to manage our website, he is not fulfilling his promises. However he has control of the website and will not release back to us. How to take control back is what we need can you help

    • If you don’t actually own your domain name, you’ll likely either have to reach some sort of agreement with your current website manager, pursue legal action, or switch to a new domain name. Of course, I have no idea what makes the most sense in your situation. I can tell you that as far as I know, none of our clients have ever chosen to pursue legal action.

      • If you don’t know who owns it but you have some sort of legal claim to the domain name, you or your attorney can reach out to the domain name registrar. You can look that up using whois.net or any Whois lookup site.

  2. We lost control of the old website, set up a new one 5 years ago and have 2 website going. Now trying to get host whcich is Yahoo to release website and they are saying I have to call WordPress (since the student who made the site won’t hand over info) because the websites made using it. This is wrong info right? We do have payment info. What can I do about old website back? And once I get control, should I kill it or out a back link? It gets 300 hits vs new site that gets 30 hits.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Danna, it sounds like your situation is unique enough that I would recommend reaching out to a digital marketing company or professional for personal help. I will say that we’ve found Yahoo as a host difficult to work with in the past, but haven’t run into any clients using them in several years now.

  3. My website expired without me realizing it and had been scooped up by some company in China. I tried e-mailing them but no response. Any other suggestions on how to get it back?

    • Sorry to hear that, Michael. That’s a bummer! You can always wait for it to expire and for them to lose it, but domain names are relatively inexpensive, so that probably won’t happen. You’re more likely going to either have to pay the money or get a new domain name. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

  4. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for this resource.

    I owned a website which was my name, including first, middle and last spelled out in full. It is not a coming name. It lapsed and a Chinese sex site has bought it, thrown up an sexually graphic page. IT is very distrubing and frustrating to have not only lost control of my site but also to have traffic directed to this type of content.

    I believe clearly this is a case of wrongful/negatitve intent which is not legal.

    Thanks for any help,
    A

    • I’m no lawyer, but sounds like you might want to contact one. My understanding is if the domain name that you let lapse contains a trademarked name, you may be able to get it back. But it will take legal action to get it back. Of course, the real lesson that you’ve probably already learned is be careful not to let your domain names lapse.

      Good luck!

  5. My domain expired and someone snatched it up before I could buy it back. Is there anything I could do other than pay their ransom?

    • If it contains a registered trademark, you can always have an attorney reach out to them. If not, you can also wait until it expires again and see if you can snatch it up. But the safest bet is to purchase it back from them, if you’re willing to pay whatever they’re asking.

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