I call these Jodi’s rules of web site safety and backup. They’re lessons many of my clients have learned the hard way. Ignoring them can be expensive, time consuming, and truly aggravating.
Own your own code.
If you use a designer, get a copy of all the files, graphics, forms and other materials that make your Web site work. If you have a disagreement or the designer leaves town, you will still have everything you need to manage your site.
Try to avoid templates created by your web host. If you want to change hosts, you’ll lose your Web design!.
Make certain everything on your site is transferable if you need to move it elsewhere.
Own your own domain name.
Register your site name in your own name; not your web master’s, and not your designer’s. Same reasons as rule number one apply.
Make regular backups
Backup, backup, backup! Your host may do this for you, but even if they do it’s a good idea to do it yourself. You can use a plugin for this (I use Updraft). Set it to backup automatically, both to your current site and to offsite storage (like Dropbox). Leave multiple copies in both places. Check periodically to make sure the backup was successfully completed. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Pay your vendors based on milestones, not all at once.
Set up a schedule for payments, generally an initial payment to start, a second payment on completion of a draft (or initial set of designs), and a third payment on acceptance of final copy or completed design.
Use a different host and registrar
The company you pay to display your site on the web is the host. The registrar is the company that you pay for the actual domain name. Many companies will do both. It’s a good idea to keep them separate (just in case there’s a dispute).