Here is a comprehensive strategy for buying domains at Expiring/Deleting Domain Auctions, as of Sept 2015. This process describes how the process of capturing .COM/.NET domains work. Graphic Courtesy of ICANN PRE-RELEASE DOMAIN AUCTIONS A Pre-Release Domain Auction is an Auction for a domain which has Expired but which can still be renewed or transferred out (restrictions apply.. see below) by the current Registrant. This is the first stage of the domain dropping process. From 0-45 days after expiry. (The Auto-Renew Grace Period, in ICANN speak). All Pre-Release Auctions end whilst the Registrar still has control of the domain before Day 45 after expiry. On day 46 the domain is given back by the Registrar to the Registry and it will definitely be deleted. There are only very rare exceptions. Renewal (the renewal price plus the Registrar's penalty) by the original Registrant is the most common. Usually these Auctions begin at most Registrars or Drop Catchers at around 35 days after expiry (varies with Auctioneer) and the domain has still not been renewed by the current Registrant. The main venues for these auctions are either at a Registrar which has an Auction System, like GoDaddy, or at Snapnames/NameJet which have entered into agreements with some Registrars to be the sole Auctioneer for their Expiring Domain Names. Usually the current Owner of these domains still has the right to renew the domain. But sometimes Registrars who have agreements with Snapnames/Namejet restrict these rights. GoDaddy is the most generous. Allowing transfer out (or renewal at Godaddy with a penalty) up to 42 days after expiry. You need to read each individual Registrars ToS to know the time they give you to renew the domain or then lose your ownership rights. ICANN says it should be at 45 days. But no significant Registrar follows ICANN rules, here. GoDaddy is the biggest Pre-Release Auction Market on the planet by way of the fact they are by far the biggest Registrar. SnapNames/Namejet are 2nd and 3rd to GoDaddy, respectively. Everyone else are bit players in this Market. They have a small Market Share. How much? difficult to say, but probably less than 10% for all of them combined. No facts to substantiate this. It is highly recommended that if you see a domain in a Pre-Release Auction Market you want, you should bid on it at that Auction and not anywhere else. ie: If it is at SnapNames then only bid on it at SnapNames because they control the domain. It is your first and best chance of obtaining the domain. The biggest downsides are, 1) The existing registrant can still renew the domain, and will be motivated to do so if they see it has value. 2) It is a Public Auction, so you can be outbid by anyone joining the Auction. The biggest upsides are, 1) You sidestep the Pending Delete Auction which is open to everyone (including Dropcatch/HugeDomains. More on them later) 2) You retain the original registration date (which I like personally. YMMV) PENDING DELETE DOMAIN AUCTIONS A Pending Delete Auction is an Auction for a domain which has entered the Pending Delete stage of it's current registration. Almost dead and dropped. Domains enter Pending Delete stage 75 days after expiry (46-75 days is the Redemption Grace Period, in ICANN speak). There is no coming back from Pending Delete. The domain will delete 5 days after it enters Pending Delete and will be available for re-registration the next day (day 6 after entering Pending Delete or 81 days after expiry). These Auctions begin when the Domain hits Pending Delete status. It is a free-for-all when a domain drops. The company with the best drop catching system usually wins most drop-caches. This is DropCatch with over 500 registrars knocking on the Registry's door. The main venues for these Auctions are DropCatch, SnapNames, NameJet. There are a miriad of other competitors, but they are only bit-players. Bit players ocassionally get lucky and capture Pending Delete domains. Usually (not always) the domains nobody else wants. There are no official statistics, but DropCatch probably captures at least 50% of all drop-caught domains. It could be a lot more. they are the Goliath of Pending Delete Auctions. The reason for this is mainly because their sister company, HugeDomains, wants to snap up all dropping domains which have any value, and to place them on their own Domain Marketplace for sale. Partnering with Dropcatch has, to date, been a very successful strategy for them. But we cannot see if this is profitable or not for them. The previous Goliaths were SnapNames/NameJet, who held the position now held by DropCatch. It goes without saying. If you are serious at wanting a domain, you should be backordering it at all 3 of these companies. backorders are free. You only pay if you win the domain. If you are the only backorderer at the capturing company, you win the domain outright. Now this is where it become interesting because of the different policies of DropCatch to SnapNames/NameJet relating to more than one backorderer. For SnapNames/Namejet, if there is more than backorder placed at their venue and they capture the domain, then the domain goes into a three day Private Auction. Highest bid wins the domain. For DropCatch, if there is more than one backorder placed on a domain at their venue, and they capture the domain, then the domain goes into a 3 day Public Auction. Where anybody can bid on the domain. Because everyone is used to the old system at SnapNames/NameJet where a domain goes to a Private Auction, they reel at the though that anybody can bid on a drop-catch with multiple bidders, if it is caught by Dropcatch. they feel cheated. But it is only the marketplace at work. Of course a Private Auction is preferred because the domain has fewer bidders, not everyone. But with DropCatch capturing the lions share of all drop-caught domains, they have chosen to hold Public Auctions, where prices are naturally bid higher than at Private Auctions. Some say too high. But in general, it is only being bid up to a price where another Domainer can still sell the domain and make a profit, in their opinion. Of course opinions between domainers vary about the price. There is a twist to this DropCatch dropcatching. As as sop to other domainers, they have stated that HugeDomains would not be permitted to participate in any Dropcatch Auction. This of course is fine, until they are being bid up by other domainers What is not so good, is they recently introduced a Discount Club, where HugeDomains have priority over any backorder. this is not good at all, as users of this service see most of their backorders being captured by HugeDomains. IMHO, you should never use their Discount Club and only participate in their full price backordering, which cuts out HugeDomains access to the domain. You still need to participate in the Public Auction if there was more than one backorder at DropCatch, if you want to capture the domain. The exception only would be if you are placed at the highest bidder and nobody else bid on the domain, which is quite rare. Personally, I see DropCatch's method of doing business as a paradigm shift. It's not going away. Either embrace it or hate it. It will make flips harder because of the higher pricing, and will usher in longer hold times for domains. I actually like the fact I can poke my finger in the eye of HugeDomains (our biggest single competitor) by placing a full price backorder on DropCatch. Even if I don't bid on any auction, and I just take the captures where I was the only backorderer. It's peanuts in the big scale of things, but it gives me satisfaction For domains which are not worth the $59 dropcatch fee. I usually backorder at Pheenix. They capture some but not all. With their recently added 100 drop-catch Registrars, they should become more competitive. But they have announced the same policy of as DropCatch of Public Auctions on domains with more than 1 backorder placed on their system, from Sept 19th 2015. This won't suit everybody. But I believe it is the wave of the future. Some day, all dropcatchers will operate like this. IMHO. CONCLUSION For Pre-Release domains I only bid at the Auction House which has the domain up for Auction. Nowhere else works. GoDaddy, or SnapNames, or NameJet, or if the domain is registered at a Registrar which runs it's own Auction House, eg Dynadot. For Pending Delete domains which have value and desirability, I backorder at all three major players DropCatch, SnapNames, NameJet. For domains which I think won't get picked up by any of these three, I use the cheaper drop-catcher, Pheenix. The hundred registrars they just added will make them very competitive in this section. I might even add them to my top three and see how many they catch See more about DropCatch and Domainers/HugeDomains backorders below.