Why You Should Keep Your Domain Name and Your Web Hosting Separate

Last Quest
Photo by Last Quest

Over the past 10 years I learned a lot about website design including domain name management. Some lessons were part of the natural learning progression adding to the foundations that I had built for myself, while others only became obvious when I actually looked at the project numbers. Let’s start with a story.

When I first started, like any newbie, I came across domain name and web hosting packages. The deal was for $25 I could register a domain name and get free webhosting. I thought that this was a great deal. Web hosting itself would have cost me over $100 a year and at the time I had no idea what a domain should have cost.

Taking the information I have now, at first glance I would have saved over $75 a year. So why did the website cost me over $600 a year when everything was said and done?

Hidden Fees

I was nailed with a few different hidden fees. The first was a bandwidth usage surcharge. I was allotted a certain amount of bandwidth. The type of content that I had up was a about 50 pages for an online comic and 1 video demo that was a minute long mpeg format which was hosted on YouTube. Based on my previous experience with different providers, I knew that I shouldn’t be consuming all of it.

Bandwidth consumption is dependent on the traffic that you attract. Sometimes you’ll use more, sometimes you’ll use less. It’s better to have too much than too little, or else your website can disappear until the following month.

In this case, my site’s bandwidth was used up within a week or two and my website was down for the rest of the month unless I paid for more bandwidth. At the time the price was $5 for a base amount which was used up within a couple of the days. I had three options, none of which included a permanent web package upgrade or bandwidth roll over options. Basically, once the month was up and I didn’t end up using all of my bandwidth, it was gone. Poof!

My choices at this point were to buy a web package, which is what I was trying to avoid by buying the domain and web hosting deal, or to continue buying more bandwidth on a monthly basis.

Spam Issues with Service Provider

By this time, I had decided to check out what was actually eating up my bandwidth. I slap on some analytics into my code. I can safely say that the 3 hits that I was getting a month was not the source of the bandwidth leak.

I also noticed that I was having an incredibly difficult time uploading content. When I contacted customer service and took a ticket, it took three days for them to get back to me just to ask for my account information to ‘look into it’. Five days later, I’m told that I can’t upload anything because I haven’t got enough bandwidth do so. No proposed solutions except for ‘you can buy more bandwidth from us’.

In the end, I discovered that my space had been completely consumed by spam. For professionalism, I had set up a domain based email account and I had set up a variety of spam filters. I targeted a few keywords that seemed to come up consistently. By the time I had the email quota set up, my mail box was full again and the quota couldn’t take. I delete the account and create a new one, setting up the quota first. In a matter of an hour, my email account was full of new spam.

This simply would not do. Not only could I not use my domain for email branding, my website’s space was just non-existent. I decided to transfer out.

Flexibility to Sell or Transfer Your Domain without Affecting Your Website

I decided that I wanted out. I initiate a domain name transfer to a different registrar. Or at least I attempt to. After scouring the domain manager for my transfer initiation code also known as an EPP, and not finding anything even related to request one, I ask support for the information.

There was a huge run around stating that they needed to know who I was transferring to, and that they could only transfer to certain people, and so on; all of which were lies. You need to get an authorization code before you initiate the transfer. You also have to register with your desired domain registrar to set up an account so that it’s ready to receive the domain.

Because I requested a domain transfer which I guess nullifies the whole domain / web package deal that I had registered for, the service provider deleted my site there by ruining hours of work. It’s a good thing that I keep a back-up.

Lessons Learned

From that point on I keep my domains registered with a separate provider. This helps me judge the service for what it is, as a domain registrar or as a web hosting provider, but never both. Since the bulk of my problems lay on the web hosting side, particularly when it comes to certain site requirements, I tend to really look for great customer service first and price second. I like to know that the issue is being resolved and that I don’t have to pay an extra $20 a minute while on hold hoping that maybe I might get on with some work at some point in the day.

Amber Dalcourt is a design and digital media consultant for Evil Ink. She also wrote this book on Domain Names to help people maximize their organic traffic potential by showing them how to set up a solid foundation for their online project.

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