So you finally thought of the perfect domain name for your business or personal website, but when you go to register it, it’s already taken. Sound familiar? Well, you might think it’s time to go back to the brainstorming session, but it might be best to check out a few things first.
One thing you should try, at first, is to type the domain name into your Web browser, and see if there is actually a website there already. If it looks like there is a real website there, you’re probably out of luck. If it seems like it’s not really being used, and you see something like an under construction, page not found, or a parked page with just a bunch of ads, then try doing a WHOIS search on the domain name to find out some information. A good site to use for that is Easy Whois. You should type in the full domain name without the www.
The most important piece of information you’ll get from doing a WHOIS search is the Renewal or Expiry date. That tells you how much longer the current owner will be in ownership of the domain. If it’s going to expire 4 years from now, it’s probably best to forget about it; however if it’s going to expire within the next year, it might be worth keeping an eye on it. I recommend creating an appointment in your calendar program to remind you to do a WHOIS search again right before the renewal date expires.
If the domain name still has not been renewed by the owner after that, now you can start to get your hopes up a bit. If the owner doesn’t renew the domain before the renewal date, the Domain status that you see when you do a WHOIS lookup will change from EXIST to SUSP, which stands for Suspended. Now things are looking even better for you.
When a .ca domain name enters the suspended status, the owner alone is still able to renew the domain for a period of approximately 30 days. You should be ready at the end of that time to register the domain yourself as soon as it becomes available.
Now there is another status that the domain name has to go through before you’ll be able to register it and claim it as your own. It is called TBR, which stands for “to be released.” This status period is usually in effect between the last day of the suspended status and the first Wednesday after. Dot-ca names are always released on Wednesday afternoon, at 3:00pm Eastern time. If your domain name is still available at 3:00pm Eastern time, and you register it right away, most likely it will be yours. Congratulations, you did it!
Okay, there is actually one more hurdle that must be overcome, and it is something that I think is quite unfair to the average Canadian who wants to register a website. Before the domain names are actually release to the public at 3:00pm, there is a special registration period for one hour (between 2:00 and 3:00pm) for registrars only. That means you have to go through these special registrars if you want to get your domain before someone else does. In other words, they get first choice, and they have the power to get the best domains before they even become available to the public. I’ve seen many of these sites that claim to be able to get you a TBR name before it is released, and they usually charge quite a bit more for this service than you would pay if you registered a domain yourself. And it gets even worse. If more than one person puts in a request for the same domain name, the domain is entered into an auction, and the person who ends up paying the most money in the end gets the domain. Does that seem fair? Does it seem like a good part of the CIRA domain management system? What do you think?
Anyway, there is still hope, even in spite of that. Just because you think the domain name you want is the best one for you, and you might be able to create the next Facebook replacement with it, chances are, nobody else cares about your domain. Or maybe nobody has noticed it yet. There are, after all, thousands of domains released every Wednesday. How many people like you do you think are out there looking for the same domain that you want? Probably not many, and maybe even nobody. So have some faith, relax, and just try to get it when it becomes available.
Recently, I was able to get a domain that I had wanted for several months by doing the above. The domain name is DealsoftheDay.ca. I had the impression that this domain might be very difficult for me to get, especially after going through the “registrar only” registration period. Well, I wasn’t able to get back home until 3 hours after it became available to the public again, and I didn’t have much hope, but when I went to register it, to my surprise, it was still available. I didn’t waste any time in registering it after seeing that, and now it’s mine. If it can work out for me, it can probably work out for you, too. Good luck!