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When setting up web domains and email forwarding packages...

Fay Dashper-Hughes

It’s always a good idea not to have all your eggs in one basket and to keep your options open. In theory it allows you to be flexible and agile in your decision-making later on.

That’s why, when I knew that the business name was going to be KNIT IT – HOOK IT – CRAFT IT, I bought the website domain names www.knitit-hookit-craftit.com and www.knitit-hookit-craftit.co.uk from Fasthosts.co.uk; a company I have used previously, one with a very detailed but user friendly dashboard, and one that also does website hosting, email forwarding and so forth should I require it.

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to host my website with Fasthosts or not but I knew I was going to need emails at the very least so, taking a ‘belt and braces’ approach I checked the box for a hosting package whilst I was registering the domain names – specifically I linked the hosting package to my .com URL.

This meant that, even before setting up the website I had email forwarding from the .com domain name so, by simply adding the relevant POP3 and SMTP settings in my Outlook on my laptop, anyone emailing fay@knitit-hookit-craftit.com would pop up in my inbox.

Ultimately, after much research about secure payment gateways and other things that make for a good and secure customer experience when shopping websites, I elected to host my site through Shopify – a Canadian based company that provide a sold eCommerce platform for start-ups and SMEs.

I mentioned that Fasthosts have a detailed dashboard that allows for simple control over DNS records?

Well, going into that dashboard and changing the DNS to create the relevant A Record and CNAME settings was a piece of cake. And it worked straight away… for the .co.uk domain name.

That was where the trouble started.

In my relative ignorance, by attaching the hosting package to the .com domain name in Fasthosts, I had effectively ‘hard-wired’ certain DNS settings.  Simple solution - remove the hosting package. The only trouble with that is, when I did so, I inevitably disabled my email forwarding… which meant I could not get emails any more.

So, I removed the web-hosting package in Fasthosts and replaced it with an email forwarding only package. That got my emails working again but as far as pointing the www. at my Shopify shop was concerned it didn’t do me any good at all… and after another frustrating week of to and fro on the ‘live chat’ support services with both Shopify and Fasthosts (both very good and very patient, by the way) I discovered that there was still a hidden alias for the www. lurking around in the DNS settings.

It all got to be a bit of a pain in the neck and all the time the clock was ticking; all of my marketing materials related to the .com domain name so, although the .co.uk domain was up and running, it wasn’t what I wanted to promote.

Having finally identified that the rogue www. alias was located in the email-forwarding package in Fasthosts, I elected to move my email forwarding to Zoho.com (a free entry-level package and a straightforward transfer process for my mail boxes; changing the POP3 and SMTP settings in my Outlook was also necessary). Then I switched off the email-forwarding package in Fasthosts. This meant also switching off Fasthosts ‘automatic updates’ to the DNS settings (they kept defaulting back to the package that was attached to the domain name, which is where the alias for the www. kept creeping back in), which felt like a scary thing to do because normally automatic updates are there to stop relative novices like me from breaking things.

It worked.

The domain name started pointing at the right IP address and Shopify’s dashboard started to tell me that an SSL certificate had been requested for the .com domain. Then, this morning, the SSL certificate was confirmed and .com finally started pointing at the right place.  This has taken almost a month to achieve.

Neither Fasthosts, nor Shopify did anything wrong here – it was a bad decision by me at the early part of this process. I should have followed my own advice more rigorously.

The lesson to take away from all this is actually that I was right in the first place - it’s always a good idea not to have all your eggs in one basket and to keep your options open. It allows you to be flexible and agile in your decision-making later on.

The problem was I kept some eggs together in the same basket – I had  enabled an element of hosting with the company that I registered the domain with.

If I had only registered my domain names with Fasthosts, and had my email forwarding elsewhere (a service like Zoho.com) from minute one then I would never have had any problems whatsoever, and I would have had sufficient flexibility to make effective agile operational decisions when I needed to, and to have them work straight away.

Anyway, lessons learned…

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