A domain name goes through a life cycle, this life cycle can be reset if the owner chooses to renew it, however, what happens if the owner forgets to renew, doesn’t have the money to renew, or has quite simply lost interest in the domain name and does not want to renew it?
1. A domain name is registered and is considered active, or registered – this domain name is owned by an individual or company and can not be registered by anyone else at the moment – it will remain property of the registered owner until the registration time runs out – the minimum time a domain name will be registered for is 1 year.
2. Once the registration period expires, the domain name will be placed on hold for a period of time, this varies depending on the company which was used to register the domain name, and also the type of domain name (.com, .net, .org etc). The on-hold period can last anything up to around 45 days, and during the on-hold period, the person who owns the domain name can come along, re-register the domain name and continue to use it. This domain will not count as having expired, and will carry on as having been registered for the full period. If the owner decides not to renew the domain name, or forgets, it will then move to a redemption period.
3. Redemption periods in terms of domain names last for 30 days, and allows the owner to extend their registration, but as they chose not to renew at renewal time, or during the on-hold period, they will have to pay a penalty fee. The fee varies between registrars and can be up to several hundred dollars, so as you can see, keeping your domain name renewed on time makes a lot more sense than leaving it until the last minute and paying expensive fees.
4. If the domain name is not renewed during the on-hold or redemption periods, it will go into the pending delete phase, this is a 5 day period where the domain name will be in limbo, it can’t be registered by the previous owner and it can’t be registered by a new owner. This period lasts for 5 days and then the domain name will “drop” and be registerable by anyone – if the old owner chose to register it then they could try to register it before anyone else, but there is a strong market for expired domain names, so if the domain name has good metrics or is a valuable name then there will be many people looking to register it.
The exception to this 4th rule is, that some more valuable domain names may be made available for backorder/pre-order before they expire, this often means the domain name will go to auction and interested buyers will bid on the domain. Domain auctions can be an expensive way of purchasing a domain name, especially if the domain name is useful to more than one person.
If you’re interested in registering an expired domain or want to see what is coming up for auction, there are many different websites which are created specifically for this, such as http://the.domain.name or snapnames – so if you really can’t find a domain name you want which is available to register, why not check out expired or up coming expiring domain names?