How to Rescue a Hostage Website

rescue mission

If you’re reading this it might be too late. You’ve missed all the signs of your website being taken hostage and now you’re losing sleep over this. The developer seemed trustworthy. But now, you are completely locked out of your website and the developer won’t return any calls or emails.

Everything may seem hopeless or feel like there aren’t any options. Don’t worry, we can walk you through on how to rescue a website

Who Controls What?

There are three major keys to a website: the domain name server (DNS), host, and the file transfer protocol (FTP) client. Now depending on whether you or the developer set these up will determine how easy it will be to rescue your website.

You Own All Three

If you set up all three, great! Even if the web developer has changed all the passwords, you are still the owner.

It might take a few phone calls but you’ll be able to get those changed. Once the developer’s access has been taken away, you’ll control the website. The fastest way to do this is to delete the developer’s FTP account. Only do this if you made them a separate one, to begin with. Please don’t go deleting your own FTP account.

After this, make sure you also change the password for the domain registrar. That way, the developer can’t turn around and login to change the DNS settings in relation.

But what if you don’t own all three? Luckily, you still have options.

You Own the Domain and Pay for Hosting

Assuming that the web host isn’t the one who kidnapped your website, it’s fairly easy to regain control of the website when you own both the domain and pay for hosting. The only step you’ll need to do here is to have the web host change the password for you. Even if the developer has locked you out of this but you are still the one who pays for it, you can prove that you are in fact the owner. With this complete, you’ll once again have full control of the website.

You Only Own the Domain

This is when things start to get a little more difficult. At the very least you own name of your website! In a situation like this, you are going to have to find a new host and point that new host to the domain. This will entirely get rid of your old website so make sure that this is the only option left. From here you can either try and see if the developer will give you FTP access so you can move over your old website or you can at least rebuild while keeping the same domain.

You Own Nothing

Well, there are a few options here, none of them are going to be easy. Yes, you can involve lawyers. Yes, you can purchase a new domain and start from scratch. You could also reach out to another developer to consult on the matter for you. Just explore all possible options and don’t give in to that developer or host.

We’ve handled this situation many times before and have gained the expertise that is needed to rescue a website. If you feel as if you are in this situation and would like to set up a consultation, please contact us. Situations like this can get out of hand very quickly, so don’t hesitate. 

Or if you’re ready, schedule a meeting with us to get started!