Oops… I forgot to renew my domain! What Happens to an Expired Domain?

The traditional life cycle of a domain: “It

[the domain] goes from availability into being registered as it goes through a five-day add / grace period. It goes to being registered anywhere from one to ten years. As long as it continues to be registered, it continues to be alive. It then expires at some point. All domain names have an expiry date.” In the early days of the Internet, a domain expired immediately on its expiration date. This changed with the advent of the “auto-renew grace period.”

Domain Lifecycle – Smackwagon Design

Initially, the auto-renew grace period gave registrants five additional days to maintain control of their domain names; that was more than registrants had previously, but many domain holders complained that the five days still was not enough time.

That’s when ICANN stepped in and suggested that an additional 30-day grace period / hold time be put into effect. That suggestion became policy and all expiring domains go through a 30 day redemption period. During this hold time, the domain name ceases to be active — a sure sign to a registrant that there’s an issue with the domain. At any time within that period, the registrant can still renew the domain.

If, on the other hand, the domain registrant does not take action to renew the domain within the 30 day redemption period, on the 31st day the domain goes into what’s called the domain “pending deletion” phase, which lasts a total of 5 days. Once the domain enters into this period, the registrant can no longer renew the name and get the domain back. Instead, the registrar puts the domain on its list of soon-to-be available domains. Following that, once the five-day pending delete time ends, the domain is deleted by the domain registry, making it non-existent and allowing anyone to register it anew.

However, in practice, the redemption period has become practically useless. Before a domain name enters the redemption grace period, there’s the auto-renew grace period, which allows a registrar to hold the domain for 0 to 45 days and use it for its own purposes. During this period the registrar becomes the official owner of the domain but might still allow the registrant to renew it. This period also allows the registrar to test the domain for traffic and revenue by putting up PPC (pay per click) ads on the domain.

Most registrars currently allow domain owners to renew their domain during the first 30 days of this auto renew grace period, even though – and quite alarmingly so – they have no contractual obligation to do so. This 30-day period, during which renewal is still possible thanks to the good will of most registrars, is now known as the “registrar grace period”.

Oops… I forgot to renew my domain! What Happens to an Expired Domain?

If the parked site generates traffic and earns money via PPC during this 30-day registrar grace period, and if the domain is not reclaimed by the former owner, then the registrar will either put up the domain up for auction in an attempt to sell it for a profit, or keep it for himself. If the domain is deemed to have no value, he will still try to auction it off, but if there are no takers, the registrar will put the domain into the redemption grace period, after which the domain will be deleted and become available to the public.

What are the implications for domainers? At least in theory, you could actually lose a domain the same day it expires. Aggressive registrars could simply deny any renewal requests occurring after the domain’s expiration date and keep the domain for themselves or auction it off.

Even mainstream registrars looking for new revenue streams could easily shorten or even eliminate the registrar grace period at the drop of a hat. Domainers should always renew their domains at least a few months before the expiration date to have a cushion for unforeseen events and to prevent registrars from getting too greedy when they see a highly valuable domains potentially slipping from your hands.

Another important change to take note of is that the previously very popular “drop catching” game, where registrants tried to register domains the second they expired, practically no longer exists. Virtually all domains that actually go through the official redemption and pending delete periods are simply worthless from a traffic and revenue point of view.

Valuable domains are retained by the registrar or auctioned off. To get access to valuable expiring domain names, domainers must use the services of Snapnames, Pool.com, GoDaddy’s TDNAM or similar services. For all practical purposes, these services no longer try to “grab” domains upon expiration. Instead, they simply have contracts with registrars to auction off their expiring domains.

By |2016-11-02T17:15:42+00:00January 8th, 2012|Our 2 Cents, Our Blog, SmackTalk|0 Comments

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