My “how to guide” on drop catching expired domains

I have been catching dropping domains for a few years now. It’s often times I see others going through the same struggles I did & this topic takes years to understand. There’s a lot of myths floating around the forums.

First off, the meaning of drop catching, drop catcher is a term to label the art of catching an expired domain down to the millisecond. It really is milliseconds for the valuable drops. I’ll assume that you already know how to calculate when a domain will drop & become available for purchase at any registrar. If you need a source for lists, I recommend estibot or dnmeter.com.

This guide covers my methods & how I perceive the entire system works. It’s how I understand it & what it does for me. I may stand corrected on some topics, but overall this guide should get the point across.

This guide will not work for the best drops. When a domain like a LLL.COM drops, there will generally be hundreds of watchers / bidders via backorder auctions. Snapnames, Pool & Namejet are notorious for promoting good drops to gather more backorders. This guide will work for domains of medium to lesser quality. For example, many two word domains & other variants go under the radar as dropped & get picked up by drop catchers that have good scanning tools. I have flipped many of these for good money. I have also caught hundreds of LLLL.com & the like. Sometimes you just get lucky too. Math & stats play a role & after you do something and follow a routine for a while, you will get some percent of success.

Let’s get started – So you’ve found a good domain in the drop lists. Great! Now what?

You’ll probably be at stage 1. At this stage, you’re learning the drop times, learning how to weed out the good drops & etc. You may have a domain registrar that you enjoy purchasing domains from. Well here’s my notes on the registrars I consider my favorite:

GoDaddy doesn’t allow drop catching to my knowledge. Their bulk checkout has a captcha that makes it slow to checkout. Their intentions are for you to backorder a domain through their service.
MonikerHas an API system & the manual checkout pages seem to catch some drops.
Dynadot - Has an API system & the manual checkout pages seem to catch some drops.
OnlinenicHas an API system & the manual checkout pages DO NOT catch some drops for drop catchers. It’s too slow. The API is faster
DirectiAs per their TOS, drop catching is not allowed
Name.com - Is working on an API & the checkout pages catch some drops.
ENOM – Is selfish & has recently blocked API access for drop catching .com & net during drop time.

That’s just to name a small handful registrars. I tend to use ALL of the above and more at the same time. You don’t have to. I have excessive funds at some registrars that haven’t caught anything for a while. It depends how serious you are & the resources you choose to utilize.

Stage 2

You’ll find some success trying to hand reg domains – but will get beaten because others are a wee bit faster than you. You’ll also find yourself spending a good amount of time researching & trying to drop catch, but maybe at the wrong time.

Stage 3

After burning myself out manually refreshing checkout pages at various registry’s using laptops & desktop computers, I decided to macro my drop catching. A macro is a script. Every computer has macros pre built into the operating system & products like microsoft office have help tutorials. You can see my tutorial on making drop catching software here.

You’ll find that automation will soon become your best friend. While you’re doing other things, you can have robot scripts doing the drop catching work for you.

Stage 4

You’ll notice that the way domains drop – they drop in a certain order. This is where you start to target your drop catching since you have an upper advantage. You learn that a single domain stands a better chance than 50 in a bulk checkout.

Stage 5

Since there’s a scanning solution in place, a drop order & catching automation – you’re basically at the furthest point you can get without becoming your own Registrar which costs over $20,000 USD per year & requires you to have serious cash $xxx,xxx+ in a “trust bank fund” in case something happens since you’re liable & a registrar.

To rephrase Phase 2 requires a lot of checkout page refreshes & whois checks – It will be common to have 2 browser windows or computers side by side because one will be trying to purchase domains while the other checks the whois status of your drops.

In a nutshell, that’s the stages I went through. I’d like to also address things I’ve found to be true out of personal experience.

1.) Domains that have the most backorders require backorder services to put more emphasis on that domain. That’s why LLL.com’s that drop always get picked up by the backorder services. They will literally exhaust all their server connections on one domain. If a good name drops & there’s 0 backorders, it will remain available for minutes. I have seen this.

2.) There is a registrar drop pool. From my understanding, this pool works in batches & it gives registrars a chance to make special calls to verisign. No API can touch this pool & usually the backorder services will compete for the premium drops. This pool supposedly runs seconds – 1 minute ahead of the drop list. I don’t really believe this is in place. During a comparison of a LLL.NET drop, I examined it to drop just like any other domain drop in order – as per dnmeter.com.

3.) Partner registrars will attempt to catch domains for the backorder systems. To my understanding, when the domain drops, it’s available to anyone – including you! Don’t let this term scare you. They usually bump heads & if you are after a domain, you can occasionally beat out the partner registrars.

4.) Dog eat dog – I have seen trickery going on. From whois changes to the registrar renew a valuable drop while in pending delete. You may notice a drop quickly change hands often. Pretty much anything goes.

5.) Yes, it is possible to beat godaddy, snapnames, pool & namejet at drop catching. The problem is that not enough of us do it to actually put them out of business.

A myth that is floating around:

Myth – You can never compete with snapnames, pool or namejet. They use thousands of connections. While this is true, the central registry can only accept x connections per registry & everyone still holds a chance. I believe they serialize the connections which then determines who got the domain.

Last time I checked, Snapnames employed between 400 – 600 registrars that they owned. That number is said to have grown to about 900

Advice – If you plan to drop catch, it would not be wise to backorder the domains you target. Unless if very valuable & you have the cash to spend, If you backorder domains, it will draw attention to your picks & you will add on more competition.

Advice – Stealth mode & common sense play a huge role in this game.

Advice – Instead of trying to catch 25 or 50 domains at once daily, learn the pending delete drop order. Go after only one domain at a time. After it drops, switch flow to the next drop.

Here’s a real customer reply I recieved from one of my drop catching titles:

Hi Dan,

I’m happy with the results. I beat oversee domain management today.

Peter

Common sense helps a lot too. I’ve seen drop catchers catch dirt & flip domains while others silently grab the pot of gold. It will take a good understanding of which domains are valuable. Then attempt to compare who grabbed the domains you wanted & learn on how they grabbed the names to make your system better.

Here’s a break down of drop times collection I have:

.com 1pm cst 1-2 hours drop window
.net 1pm cst 1-2 hours drop window
.us 1pm cst 10 – 20 mins drop window
.org 9am cst 30 mins drop window
.info 3am cst – haven’t verified in over 1 year
.in 2pm cst 1-2 min drop window
.co.in 2pm cst 1-2 min drop window
.ws 9:30am cst – haven’t verified in over 1 year
.mobi 9:30pm cst – drop lasts 2 mins

Good luck drop catching!

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