As a human partaking in civilized society, there are certain pieces of information that you simply have to know, and critical documents you need to have at-the-ready at a moment’s notice.
For example, I bet that right now you know what your social security number is and where your social security card is located.
I bet you also know where your birth certificate is. If you have a passport, I bet you know where that is, too. Driver’s license? Deed to your house? Debit card? You can likely rattle off their locations without much thought.
Not being able to quickly and conveniently locate any of the above when needed could create serious issues for you at critical junctures in your life.
Likewise, for those of you who run websites, there are comparable pieces of information that you had better know, or have ready when needed.
But my experience at Synthesis — where we provide managed hosting for WordPress websites — has taught me that too many site owners are far too lax with the most critical information about their websites.
Which is why we created the WordPress Website Owner’s Emergency Checklist and are providing it to you as a free download. It will make your life as a website owner so much easier having all of this critical information in one place …
And, selfishly, if you’re a Synthesis customer now or planning to become one in the future, it’ll make our lives easier too … especially if you choose to take advantage of our full-service migration offering.
The big problem
Let’s say that you’re migrating a website from a poor-performing server over to a new robust, high-performance, WordPress-optimized server. This is a scenario we see every day at Synthesis. Doing this requires having a number of important pieces of information:
- You will definitely need to know who your DNS provider is and how to log into your account.
- You may need to know who your domain registrar is, what your current nameservers are, and your MX records.
- You need to know a WordPress user and password combination that provides administrator access to your site.
- You may also need FTP information for your old server, depending on how you are transferring the files to the new server.
It should take all of about five minutes to locate all of this information. Surprisingly, it often takes people far longer.
Issue #1: What do I need to know?
One issue is that people don’t even realize what’s “must-have” information about their website.
Website owners should be thinking about their domain registrar information like their birth certificate; their DNS information like their social security numbers; and their content management system login information like their driver’s license.
You’d freak out if you couldn’t locate your birth certificate, social security card, or driver’s license. Maybe it’s time you start doing the same if you can’t immediately pull up this vital information about your website(s).
Issue #2: Wait, don’t they know that?
Another issue is passing the buck.
Perhaps you have a website for your business, but you hired a developer to build it for you and you have a managed host to help you take care of back end issues. Great! If building websites and hosting them are not your core competencies, then you’ve outsourced effectively.
However, the ultimate responsibility for knowing your website’s most vital information is yours, not theirs. A good developer or managed host will probably take care of you by having some or all of this information on hand, but … you should too.
You are practicing irresponsible website ownership if you don’t.
The simple solution
The solution is simple: take 10 minutes to round up and record all of your website’s most vital information …
- Registrar + the username and password to login.
- DNS provider + the username and password to login.
- Email provider + username/password
- Current IP Address (A record)
- MX Records
- Login URL for WordPress (or whatever CMS you use) + username/password
- FTP info: hostname; username; password; port (if necessary); and whether it’s FTP or SFTP
- Database info: PHPMyAdmin URL; database name; database user; and password
And rather than writing it all haphazardly on Post-It notes or slapping it all into a random Word Document, keep it all neat, organized, and in one place with the WordPress Website Owner’s Emergency Checklist (PDF) that we’ve created for you.
Just fill it out, print it, and tuck it away where you keep your important records. Do it for every single one of your websites.
A couple important notes regarding the checklist:
The PDF will not allow you to save it. This is not a deficiency of the PDF. We designed it this way for security, because we are always hyper-focused on security.
If you save the completed form on your website, and your laptop gets stolen, guess what? The nefarious thief now has all of your critical website information. Not good.
Go old school with this.
Print it out blank and write everything in by hand. Or you can type in the gray boxes and then print it. Once it’s printed, tuck it away in a folder that is located in a safe place. While you’re at it, print two copies and keep one offsite. Your house probably isn’t going to burn down any time soon, but such things do occasionally happen.
Bam. Now you have your essential site information secured and ready when needed. Critical mission accomplished.
(If you absolutely must keep an electronic copy of it on hand, you can always take a screenshot of it after you fill it in.)
Getting it together …
Don’t feel bad if you don’t have all of this information in one place right now. You’re not alone. Many of your website-owning colleagues don’t either.
But you should feel bad if you read this post, realize you don’t know some or all of this information, and then do nothing.
Because someday you’re going to need this information, and need it quickly. Who knows, it may even be during your migration to Synthesis.
And just know that if we ask you for any of the above information and it takes you a while to locate it, we’ll be passing around animated GIFs like this one, making fun of you
(Okay, not really.)
So prepare for someday. Download and fill out your website owner’s checklist, take care of your website so it can take care of you …