Who owns the website in a hosted solution?

There are many websites that offer turn-key solutions where they install, configure, host and manage your website on their servers using their own software. You pay a monthly fee to keep the website up and have access to all the features. I have 2 questions about this:

  1. How much of my website do I own in this agreement? What part of the website is considered my intellectual property?

  2. What if I want to sell my website in the future? Does the web host have a say in what portion of the website is sold, or what percentage they receive from the sale of my website?

I’m from the U.S. Thanks.

You own all your website data.

The host only provides server services and bandwidth.

The host doesn’t care what you do with your own website, so long as you aren’t breaking any laws.

Is there a specific host you are looking at?

One tip, if you use a turnkey provider, make sure you are the registrant of your domain name, not them. And make sure you have the ability to backup your web files and any database files to your own computer.

Good point to bring up.

Always keep regular backup copies of your files and database(s) for three reasons:

  1. In case your site gets hacked or infected, you can go back to a point before the hack/infection.
  2. In case the host you choose goes out of business, you still have a copy of your site that you can get back up and running.
  3. In case the host holds your site/files “hostage” by drastically increasing hosting costs, you can pick up and go elsewhere.

However, if you pick a well-known host with a good reputation, 2 & 3 probably won’t be an issue.

The only time you would be tied to a particular host is if you use their proprietary tools to build your site and to provide functionality. If you do that then if you leave you’d need to rebuild the site to work without their code. Some hosting providers offering “free” hosting for a limited period do this to try to lock people in so that they have to take their more expensive paid hosting rather than go elsewhere.

We had a customer years back that hired a technology firm to build and host their business website. A couple years down the road they had a disagreement with the firm they’d hired. They called us when their website went off the air, because the people they’d hired had registered their business domain name to themselves, not the business owner, and they were able to simply cut off the existing web server and domain by changing the DNS servers in the registration record. It took them months and lawyers to fix their problem. They had no backups locally and no way to get to the server to make copies.