When you want to start up a new Web site, you first have to see whether the domain name is available. This is usually fairly easily done through any qualified domain registrar. You can also check WhoIs, a registry that offers detailed information on domain names. You can also see when domain names are set to expire. If you want a domain name that is already taken, you can try to get it on backorder and snatch it up when it expires.
See, a domain name is your address on the Web. Just as you have to pay to have an address in the “real” world, you also have to pay rent on your place in cyber space. At first, it seems really easy. You can go to a number of places (GoDaddy.com is one of the most famous), and pay somewhere between $10.95 and $20.95 to place a backorder on a domain set to expire. Then, it would seem that all you have to do is wait for the domain name to expire, and then take it over.
It’s a little more complicated than that.
How domain expiration works
When a domain name expires, it doesn’t just suddenly become available on the market. The previous owner still has time to salvage his or her claim. For 40 days after the expiration date, there is a grace period. Services to the domain are shut down, but the owner can still renew the domain name. So, after you place your backorder, you still have to wait for the grace period to pass before you can take over a domain name.
But that is not all. There is “redemption” period that follows the grace period. This period is 30 days. The owner can still renew, but for a larger fee. Meanwhile, you still have your backorder in on the domain name. Finally, after the redemption period ends, there is a five day “delete” period in which ownership of the domain name is erased. It takes 75 days from the expiration date for a domain to, in actuality, expire.
Getting your new domain name
Even if you have a domain name on backorder, you still may not get it. The “drop” happens 75 days after the expiration date, and a number of people are interested in being the first to grab it. And you may not be the only person to have that domain name on backorder. Any number of people might have it in their sites. You can try to register your preferred domain name during the drop process, but you are likely to be beat out by services that specialize in catching domain names. Three of these major services, in addition to GoDaddy.com, are Snapnames.com, Enom.com and Pool.com. They have servers that are dedicated to making several requests when an expired domain name finally drops. Then the auctioning starts.
Expired domain names on backorder do not ever cost what you originally pay to place your original order. Instead, they go to auction. You can get the help of other companies to help you place automatic bids on domain names and attempt to win the auctions. In order to do this, you have to decide what you are willing to pay. Even if you are the only person who wants an expired domain name, you still have to go to auction and place a bid. Of course, you don’t actually go to auction. The services you sign up with let you know when other bids are in and give you a chance to go higher. And, in many cases, you do not know how many other bidders there are – or whether you are initially bidding against yourself.
The good news is that if you are the only one bidding on a name, you put in how much you will pay, and then after a period of time, you get the domain name. However, if there are others in the bidding, you might find that the amount you pay starts to head higher. You can set up automatic bids, beating each bid placed by five dollars or so, or you can wait until the auction is set to expire and swoop in with a scary-high bid. In the auction process, it is not uncommon to end up paying between $50 and $500 (or more -depending on the desirability of the domain name).
So you see, putting in a backorder on a domain name does not guarantee that you will get it when it expires. It doesn’t even guarantee that you will get it for the price you paid for the backorder.