Mini-rant: Web hosting company set up policies

freeThe complimentary one-year domain name that web hosts use to lure new customers too often has a downside (or two). They range from inconvenient to security risks. But the most frustrating: failure to provide specific information on the “temporary” location of the website.

Does any of this sound familiar?

You or your customer have an existing site. For whatever reason, you want a new host. When you register the account, the hosting company wants to know what domain name you’ll be using; you share the existing one — you know, the one with a different DNS setting because it’s hosted with a different service.

The welcome mail comes and you discover your username is something like <>.


Why not <myexis372> or a similar variant? It’s moderately memorable and harder to crack.

You read on and find information on your FTP account: cPanel? Mail? and

Do you see the problem here?

The host has provided no information on how to access anything unless/until your domain has resolved (24-48 hours after DNS records are updated for  new site, weeks or months for a redesign). Moreover, it is providing no info on how to work on your site in the interim.

If this drives you as crazy as it does me, I’ve found at least one solution. AcornHost in Portland.

I set up an account with them last week; the welcome email comes complete with the URL to the “temporary” page and cPanel is tied to the username (which is modeled on my suggestion above) not to the domain name. FTP server? The IP address.

Other hosts (used by either me or my students)

  • DreamHost – 24×7 support was able to provide the temporary URL Wednesday night for one of my students
  • FatCow – fails on all counts; moreover, 24×7 chat support was unable to provide the correct temporary URL Wednesday night for one of my students; we were given one that did not work. WordPress via SimpleScripts
  • MediaTemple : will provide the alternative (“temporary”) URL on request but it was not sent in welcome email nor easily findable. Login is a three field form (not the standard two). WordPress via their own one-click install.

Feel free to add details about other hosts in the comments. Blatant ads will be removed.


By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

4 replies on “Mini-rant: Web hosting company set up policies”

Well, after almost an hour in chat with FatCow …. this is what I learned. When you use SimpleScripts and do a default install, there is no way to access your WP files using the “FatCow Account URL.” You have to select the FC account URL in a dropdown and literally change the “access URL.” Lord only knows what you have to do when you decide it’s time to flip the swtich.

i do some hosting service and you make some very valid points. i am just starting out and will make sure that i provide a valid ip address or temp page to get things setup.. thanks for the tips!!

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