Recently found myself in the position of wanting to register a
domain which was owned by someone else. The domain was set to
expire in a week, and I figured there was a decent chance that
the person who owned it wouldn’t be renewing it. Upon consulting
the WhoIs registry on the current owner, I discovered the guy
was a bit of a domain shark and didn’t seem to be around anymore.
So I placed a backorder through GoDaddy for $18.95 thinking that
was all I needed to do. During the week that followed, I learned
a lot about the domain expiration process. Two and a half months
and $369 later, I am the proud owner of a shiny new domain. A
really really good one.
This article will explain the domain expiration process and what
you need to do in order to use it to your advantage.
How a domain expires Contrary to popular belief, domains
do not expire when they say they do. If the owner of a domain
does not renew by the expiration date of the domain, the domain
goes into “expired” status. For 40 days, the domain is in a
grace period where all services are shut off, but the domain
owner may still renew the domain for a standard renewal fee. If
a domain enters this period, it is a good first indicator that
it may not be renewed, but since the owner can re-register
without penalty, it can also just be a sign of laziness or
After 40 days are up, the domain’s status changes to “redemption
period”. During this phase, all WhoIs information begins
disappearing, and more importantly, it now costs the owner an
additional fee to re-activate and re-register the domain. The
fee is currently around $100, depending on your registrar. When
a domain enters its redemption period, it’s a good bet the owner
has decided not to renew.
Finally, after the redemption period, the domain’s status will
change to “locked” as it enters the deletion phase. The deletion
phase is 5 days long, and on the last day between 11am and 2pm
Pacific time, the name will officially drop from the ICANN
database and will be available for registration by anybody.
The entire process ends exactly 75 days after the listed
expiration date. For an even more detailed explanation, read the
article Inside a Drop Catcher’s War Room. Landing your domain
So if domains are available to the general public 75 days after
they expire, how do you know your GoDaddy backorder isn’t one of
many other backorders from other people using other services?
The answer is, you don’t.
And thus begins the cloak-and-dagger game of “getting in on The
“The Drop” is the unpredictable three hour period of time in
which the domain is deleted from VeriSign’s database and
released back into the ecosystem. I briefly thought about trying
to beat GoDaddy to the punch by manually registering my domain
during the drop process, but I quickly found out that there are
no fewer than three major services which specialize in pounding
away on VeriSign’s servers during the drop period. With their
considerable resources and my measly Powerbook, there was no way
I could compete on their level.
So I decided to enlist the services of all three major domain
snatching firms in hopes that a) one would grab my domain for
me, and b) no one else would be competing against me. The three
services — Snapnames.com, Enom.com, and Pool.com —
all operate in a similar manner. They use a network of
registrars to hit the Verisign servers at frequent intervals
(but not too frequent to get banned) and snatch as many
requested names as possible. If you don’t get your name, you
don’t pay. But that’s where the three services begin to differ.
Snapnames.com (the exclusive partner of Network Solutions)
charges you $60 for your domain unless there are multiple
suitors, at which point there is an open bid auction between
suitors. Seems fair enough. Snapnames is a bit of a newcomer to
the game, but with their Network Solutions affiliation, they are
said to be improving their success rates. Enom.com Not wanting
to chance it with only one company, I also enlisted Enom to
snatch my domain for me. Enom had reportedly been improving
their “Club Drop” service for a year or two and it was now
considered one of the top three. Their fee was only $30 and they
are based in my ‘hood (Seattle), so I was hoping they
would be the company to successfully “work The Drop” for me.
Here’s where it starts to get sketchy though.
Enom claims that the higher your bid is (beyond the $30), the
more “resources” they will dedicate to grabbing the domain. What
the hell? How am I supposed to judge that? Does that mean you’re
using one server now and will use 30 servers if I bid $40? Or
does it mean that you’re using 30 now and will use 35 if I bid
Not knowing exactly what to do, I attempted to bid a couple of
hundred dollars during the last day, but Enom required me to
send them a fax to become a “verified bidder”. Since I was at
home that day and only dinosaurs still have fax machines, I was
unable to increase my bid. Oh well, I thought, if someone else
on Enom bids higher, at least I’ll be able to participate in the
Pool.com is the Scott Boras of domain name grabbing — the
brilliant, yet conniving agent that players (domains) love and
team owners (prospective domain buyers) hate. Pool plays off the
power of the unknown in such a fiendishly clever way that you
don’t know whether to hug them or kill them. Here’s how it works:
Pool is the #1 company around as far as number of servers and
success rates go. You place your original bid for $60 and if
Pool.com grabs your name for you, they send you an e-mail
telling you they’ve been successful and that you’ve now entered
“Phase 1″ of the two-phase auction system. This is the case
whether or not you are the only bidder! Pool.com doesn’t even
reveal how many bidders there are.
Then, in a Boras-like move of diabolical genius, Pool.com
informs you that you have three days to place a new sealed bid.
If the bid is either one of the top two bids or within 30% of
the top bid, you move on to a one-day open bid auction (the
“challenger” auction) for final control of the domain.
So if I bid $100 and two people bid $140, I don’t even get to
move on to the final auction! It’s all designed to get me to up
my sealed bid… whether or not there are even any other bidders.
Note: One other thing I forgot to mention is that before the
name dropped, I grabbed all .net, .org, and .info variants (all
were available) in order to have more leverage over other
buyers. The chase is on
Right on time, 75 days after the domain expired, I got an e-mail
from Pool.com telling me they’d secured my domain for me. Great.
Of the four sources I used, Pool.com was the one I least wanted
to deal with. But true to their claims, they ended up being the
best agent of The Drop and had just gotten me one step closer to
my domain. They had A-Rod and I was the Texas Rangers.
Unlike the Texas Rangers, however, I realized I could be bidding
against myself and entered a sealed bid of $302. I chose that
number because it seemed sufficiently high but not so high that
I’d feel foolish if I was the only bidder. I added the extra two
dollars on the end just to edge out any other people potentially
deciding on $300 as their number.
The next three days were particularly stressful. I had no idea
where I stood, and throughout this entire process, I’d always
had the sneaking suspicion that the people at these companies
are on the lookout themselves for valuable domains. In other
words, if someone all of a sudden bids $1000 on a domain, will a
domain company decide to snatch it up themselves or “shill bid”
against you on it?
Finally the e-mail from Pool arrived and informed me that I had
moved onto the Challenger Auction. There was one other bidder
and they had upped their bid to $312 in order to beat me. Not
too bad, but I had no idea how high that person was willing to
go. I had to decide on a top bid (a la eBay’s proxy bidding) and
a strategy for when to place it.
True to form, Pool.com’s auction system squeezes even more money
out of you by making sure the auction doesn’t end if there’s a
bid in the last five minutes. In that case, the auction time
keeps extending by five minutes until there are no more bids.
I could try one of two things: Bid high and bid early in an
attempt to scare off the other guy, or lull the other guy to
sleep by doing nothing until the last 6 minutes. I chose the
second method since the ending time was 8am on a Saturday… a
time when many people are not in front of computers. I set four
alarms for 7:45am Saturday morning, woke up on time, and placed
my bid for $500 when the countdown clock hit 6 minutes.
The system immediately auto-upped the current bid to $369 and I
was the leader. Six nervous minutes, fifty browser refreshes,
and a thousand heartbeats later, my opponent was nowhere to be
found and the domain was mine… ready for immediate transfer to
Dreamhost, my hosting company of choice.
I’m still not quite sure whether the person on the other end was
real (although I assume they were), but the bottom line is that
by playing every possible angle, I now have an extremely
valuable domain in my possession for the reasonable sum of $369.
Not valuable because I want to sell it or anything; just
valuable because I want it.
For more articles Please visit All Web Hosts.
I am Arpit,the webmaster of the site All Web Hosts is a computer
enginner and enjoys working in front of computers. I like to
spend my time in building sites and on various forums.
AllWebHosts site is mainatined by me and one of my friend,
Prashant. In my free time, I like to play table-tennis.