Help! I can’t edit my website!

It happens more often than you’d think! I get a call from a new client and they’ve totally lost access to their website. Someone designed it for them, but they weren’t sure how it was set up – they just paid the bills.

The Investigation Begins:

Step one in the investigation is to figure out where your hosting and domain are located.  If you aren’t sure what these things are, check out my article on setting your business up online: Part One Hosting. This covers the basics of how your website was set up. But if you don’t have access to this information, there are ways we can use our online detective skills and figure it out.

Whois:

“Whois” started as a service for domain names so you could buy up domains that relate to your business.

The best website:  https://lookup.icann.org/  is a public site that logs all domains and who owns them. This is an excellent place to start when you’re trying to figure out where your website is and who’s controlling it. Google and many of the hosting companies have their own versions of “who-is” search tools that work as well.

One of the upgrades a lot of hosting companies try to sell you is making your information private – which can save you from a ton of spam.  However, one of the biggest nightmares I ever ran into in tracking down a website was when a client had made her site private and the hosting company made her jump through 50,000 hoops to prove who she was. Make sure you know what you’re doing if you protect your website, you may just be protecting it from yourself!

If you’re super lucky, the “who-is” search will let you know who owns the domain and where it’s hosted. If the host looks familiar, hopefully you have an invoice and you can start piecing together where your website is and how to access the back end so you can do updates or edits to your website.

Another nightmare story…

Another client who we worked with didn’t have any of this information and we couldn’t access it through any of the typical channels.  However, through these records, we were able to track down the servers that the site was on and it turned out her friend who built her a website had actually housed it in a sub-directory of a huge corporate website (where it still was). When we finally accessed the domain we were able to “re-point” the domain to a new hosting service and bypass the old files, but they’re probably still there today!

So you’ve found the site, but the files are gone and are inaccessible!

Don’t give up hope! Especially if your site is older, one of the coolest tools out there is the Way Back Machine. Not only does it have a cool name, but it’s an amazing tool 

Way Back Machine: https://archive.org/web/ 

This site actually archives most sites – the only time your files are gone forever is if it’s really new and the crawlers haven’t had a chance to find it yet or you have it hidden in some weird back area of the web, however even that is sometimes accessible. 

This isn’t a cure-all, if you’ve lost your template etc, you’ll still have to rebuild, but for one of my clients who had pages and pages of text, we were able to reconstruct all of it and rebuild the site. 

Feel free to email me if you want any additional help!

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