Unlike the characters in Seinfeld, we're referring to your website domain name rather than, um, well, if you've seen the episode, you know. All kidding aside, you must always be in control of your website's domain name. This means you are the owner of the account with the domain name registrar- these are companies like Network Solutions and GoDaddy. This also means that you maintain the domain account by making sure your account information is up to date, so that when renewal time comes around, you aren't caught unaware.
You don't want to wake up one morning with your web address returning a result like this:
This is a very serious issue. We had a customer call us this week because her domain name had expired and she had not renewed, either because her contact information wasn't up to date, or just not keeping up with email. Due to this, her domain was sold within 24 hours (as far as we can tell), and was no longer available to her. This was a domain name that she had owned for years! Overnight, her site was no longer appearing on the web and all of her links and citations are leading to an "Under Construction" page. She has no recourse in this matter. The domain was not renewed, so the registrar had every right to sell it, and they did. You can't rely on grace periods. If you read the policies, you'll notice that the domain registrar was careful to give themselves an out:
Steps to keep your domain safe:
1- Make sure you are listed as the administrator or owner of the domain on your domain account
2- Make sure to keep your domain name account log-in safe
3- Make sure to update the contact information any time it changes
4- Purchase your domain name for several years (as in 5-10), to keep it safe
5- Set up auto-renewal so that your domain is automatically renewed before it expires- keep your credit card information current
6- make a note to check your domain renewal each year a week or so before the date to make sure your auto-renewal is still valid
Taking these steps will ensure that you won't lose your web address.