While the general concept may seem trivial, domain names are more highly sought after than one would ever imagine. Because they can be so valuable, people of lower morals devise ways to steal them right from under your nose. Domains are also lost everyday through a legitimate practice that has been coined as drop catching. This process involves savvy domain traders who quickly snatch up names that have been expired and either try to sell them, or capitalize off the links associated with the site. Though domain owners are victimized quite frequently, knowing how the domain registration process works can help you avoid drop catching and keep your precious name safe.
How Names are Lost
As you probably know, domain names can easily be registered with a service such as GoDaddy. Although they are in great demand, a domain name can be purchased for around $10 a per. You generally have the option of registering the name for anywhere from one to ten years. Nearing the end of the registration period, the registrar sends a renewal notice to the domain owner via email. If the owner doesn’t respond in a certain amount of time, the name is eventually placed back on the market and can then be purchased by anyone else. Thousands of domains become available each day because the owners fail to renew them. Others lose their domain names simply because they didn’t realize they were up for renewal.
Domain Registrars Aid the Process
Per the rules set forth by the ICANN, domain registrars are required to notify the domain owner that their name will be removed from the registry 45 days after the expiration date. Once the name is dropped, the owner generally has a 30 day grace period to reclaim their domain. After the time has expired, there is another five day period before the name is dropped entirely and goes back on the market.
Over the past few years, domain registrars have used an auction to sell expired domain names. These auctions bypass the original process by making domains available within a thirty day period. GoDaddy is one service that starts an auction before the domain names have officially expired. The company does however, warn bidders that the domain owner still has the option to renew their name.
Domain service providers that aid in the registering of expired domain names offer tools to make these products much easier to find. For example, many provide frequent updates on available names, recommend auction services, customized searches and tools for those looking to snag expired domain names. Some offer free software to help you dig deeper for domains on the brink of expiration.
Drop catching will continue to be a widely used practice as good domains become more scarce and people look to leach traffic from established links. You can secure the identity of your website and business by knowing the status of your domain name. The best way to do this is staying aware of the expiration date or selecting an auto-renewal option. Relying on a registrar presents the risk of never receiving the notification due to a tricky spam filter and losing everything you worked so hard to build.