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Grabbing Expiring Domain Names

Posted on 5.28.2008
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There will come a time in your career as a Web professional that you come across a domain that is operated or registered by someone else. There are usually a few "tells" when it comes to knowing which domains are about to expire. While you have to keep track of those domains that you really, really want, noting which are not updated with content regularly and or are seemingly abandoned entirely are usually great indicators. Below is a pretty comprehensive explanation of the domain expiration process and how you can go about using it to your advantage - obtaining valuable domains.
 
The Domain Expiration Process:
Most web professionals believe that domains simply expire once the expiration date is reached. In reality, if a domain name is not renewed by the expiration date noted in the WHOIS database, the domain goes into what is referred to as “expired” status. Depending on the registrar, a domain name can be listed as "expired" for days, and in some rare cases sometimes even weeks. In the world of professional domaining, this is often called a grace period. While all of the sites services may be suspended, the domain owner still has the right to renew the domain for a standard renewal fee. Since ICANN has no hard and fast rules about how long a registrars grace period can be, they vary so make a note to yourself to ask your registrar how long the grace period is and get it in writing. When a domain enters into a grace period, it is an excellent sign that the owner may not renew it. However, even after the grace period ends, the domain owner can still regain it as it will enter what is know as a redemption period. During the redemption phase, all WHOIS information is removed and the owner (now previous owner) of the domain must pay additional fees to re-activate and re-register the domain. Fees vary but once in a redemption phase, if it's not a valuable domain, then chances are good that the domain will not be renewed and it can be acquired.
 
Acquiring Expired Domains:
Once the official redemption period is over the "status" of the domain changes to “locked” - rendering it non-renewable to anyone for up to five days. After that time period, the domain name is officially dropped from the ICANN database and is then available for registration. Now that the desired domain is officially available, chances are good (even great if it is a competitive domain name) that others have or will place backorders on that domain to acquire it - just like you're trying to do. Unfortunately, no one has any idea if there are more than one current backorders on a domain. If you've got some time on your hands however utilizing what is known as the "Drop Period", a three hour period where the domain is deleted from VeriSign’s database and released back to the public pool, you can secure the domain. If you don't have the time or are concerned that you don't have the resources to spend waiting for the time when renewal is possible, there are several services you may want to consider - Snapnames.com, Enom.com, and Pool.com. These services use a network of registrars to regularly hit the VeriSign servers at specific intervals and snatch as many desired names as possible. If you don’t get your name, you don’t pay.
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