Have you ever closely monitored an expiring domain name with view to registering it as soon as it became available again only to be pipped at the post by another party? You may have fallen victim to a drop registrar.
"Fallen victim" is probably too strong a term - in fact, it's incorrect as drop registrars are pursuing a legitimate practice.
What a drop registrar does is register expired domain names as soon as they "drop" - meaning when they are deleted from the domain name registry and as such, become available again. The activity is also known as dropcatching.
The attempt to register the domain name is usually carried out in conjunction with a back order service - meaning that someone else; or quite possible multiple parties, have put in a request to grab the domain as soon as it became available again.
If there are multiple parties involved and assuming the registrar or back order service grabs the deleted domain, the name will then usually go to the highest bidder in an auction.
For the average person wanting to register a freshly-deleted domain of any value; it's quite a feat. While it's relatively easy to figure out the day the domain will become available again, the exact time of the day is arbitrary. They are up against automated tools that transmit up to 250 registration requests per second. Drop registrars are capable of issuing even higher levels of requests; but the 250 was a limit set by ICANN in 2001 to prevent abuse.
But the 250 figure only applies to a single entity. If multiple domain name backorder services are trying to grab the domain, an individual's chances of being successful through manual monitoring are very slim - in fact, virtually non-existent.
This can be a particularly stressful situation if the domain in question that has expired used to be registered to the person attempting to dropcatch it after having lost control through not renewing registration.
While domain name expiry processes do give certain grace periods along with multiple reminders at set intervals; if the contact record for the name is out of date, the registrant may never see these reminders.
This is why it's very important for domain registrants keep their details up to date and renew their domain name registration as soon as the first renewal reminder notice comes in - putting it off thinking it's a task that will remembered sometimes leads to grief.
Often people may see the first notice, but not the subsequent ones if they wind up in a junk mail folder or through some other mishap. The safest practice may be to set up a reminder for registration renewals; which can be easily done through applications such as Microsoft Outlook.
Michael Bloch is based in Australia and has been involved in the domain name and web hosting industry since 2001. Michael is currently consulting for Domain