How to save your business’s website when it disappears

From time to time businesses can find themselves in precarious positions when it comes to their websites. In most cases, this is the result of the people that made the websites no longer being able to provide a reliable service.

But regaining access to your website and preserving your investment is possible. But its a process that varies between each business’s situation and their past designer’s arrangements.

In most cases, there are two components to recovering your website. These are:

  • Your business’s domain name (website address)
  • Your website and it’s content

We’ll go into detail about these aspects below.

Recovering a Domain

The process for recovering a domain varies, for this post, we assume that you have a domain name.

Let’s start with the good news, not being able to gain access to the domain from the business that helped you register it is uncommon. This is because the involvement of a 3rd party seems to signal to them an escalation.

If access to your domain cannot be achieved with the aid of your developer, it can often be achieved by recovering your domain name’s password. However, this does require that the developer has listed you as the contact for the domain. There is a legal requirement for them to do so, but it is sometimes not followed. You can check your current domain name record, here.

Finally, the domain can be recovered via AUDA, a government regulatory body. This can be achieved by demonstrating ownership via a paid invoice for the domain or ideally you will be listed as the owner of the domain.

Recovering a Website

Ideally, a copy of your website can be recovered from the original website developer. But there are other means to recovering or regaining access to your site. These vary based on the components that make up your website. But in almost all situations a visually indistinguishable version of the site can be recovered regardless of access to the original files at a server level.

Often, the idea of recovering a website that neither the customer nor the past developer has access to can cause confusion. But we’ve developed a process that while not exclusively used by us is relatively unique. Using this process we are able to rebuild the site in an identical fashion or in something that is very close to the original site.

Managing the Risks

Its understandable that businesses that find themselves in a position where they need their website recovered might be apprehensive about us or another developer that they employ to resolve the issue. So below are so some tips to help protect your website going forward.

  • Always check the domain name records of your domain post transfer. You want the contact email address to be that of your business. This will make recovering the domain name in the future not dependent on a 3rd party.
  • Request a backup or copy of the website once its been copied to its new hosting environment.
  • Be apprehensive of developers that have unusually low yearly fees unless they have been operating for an extended period of time. It either suggests an unsustainable business model or one that is dependent on high hourly rates for what might otherwise be included in your annual hosting fees.

A hopefully apt metaphor for recovering a website is that of a real estate agent/conveyancer sell a house. In that, it is a series of steps and processes that have a single objective. When done correctly, the house remains 100% unchanged and indistinguishably indifferent to what it was prior to the sale of the house. In other words, websites are designed to be moved and its a common process.

The Cost of Saving Your Website

If your current developer is actively engaged with you and can provide you with server access details then most hosting businesses will transfer your site to them free of charge. However, often the issue with this is that the website no longer has anyone managing it or available to assist with content updates.

The recommended option is to approach another website developer with your problem, and they should be able to assist for a cost + hosting fees. However, if its not their expertise then its likely they will not employ the same level of creativity and expertise that other smaller developer businesses might.

For us, we can typically salvage your website and transfer it to our servers free of charge, with our compensation coming in the form of securing you as a customer for the foreseeable future. In circumstances, where we have to rebuild your website then a cost may be incurred.

The Process & Downtime

The process and the time frame is going to vary between each website. However, the worst case scenario is 10 days once we or another developer have collected the details they need to get started. In most circumstances, the process can be completed in less than 3 business days.

While in terms of downtime or interruptions to your website, these can normally be avoided altogether.


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