Do you 100% know where your domain lives? Who is resposnible for renewing the registration? Where the nameservers are pointing to? Where all the indiviual parts of your domain ie email, web etc are pointing to?

Its not uncommon for clients to have a site registered with one company, then redirect either through changing the nameservers or via DNS to another server. Sometimes the website or "a" record can be pointing (hosted) on a completely different server to the one your emails are hosted on. Its important to keep track of where your domain is. Never assume and always keep a record of any DNS changes such as having the website hosted on one server- perhaps your web designers server, and emails somewhere else. Meanwhile you could still be liable for renewal fees elsewhere. If the company that was responsible for the registration went out of business how soon could you get your domain registered and back up and running?

The difficulty lies in the fact that many IT and web companies simply do not fully understand which part of your domain is required, if they dont utilise it. Its only when changes need to be made that you then realise the domain is not where you thought it was. It can get very messy, especially if staff who did know, leave the company.

The rise in full design houses- an all in one shop from print to media to web is one cause of the issue. Unless they have an IT background, they are unlikley to be aware or understand how to manage your domain and the many segments that are part of it.

Be aware of your domain and where it lives. Its your livelihood. If you have to host the website on a different server to your domain, make sure you fully understand who has that control. Where the domain still resides, and who you need to turn to when you want to change web companies.