GoDaddy experienced a lot of controversies after users reported that a domain name they wanted was no longer available days after searching.
While GoDaddy has disputed this claim, it has since become a hot topic on how and why domain names are snatched from you after checking for its availability.
Do registrars snatch available domains after you’ve searched them?
Domain Name Front Running (DNFR) is the act where someone monitors the domain name availability of others and registers it before others can. This is not an illegal practice, but it is highly frowned upon and can be frustrating for businesses and people looking for their perfect domain name.
Here are some things you need to know about domain name search and availability:
Do Domain Registrars Register Available Domains that get Searched on their Site?
While domain registrars, such as GoDaddy, have been subjected to accusations of stealing domain names when searched, these allegations against them have yet to be proven.
Likewise, GoDaddy has denied these accusations and reiterated its commitment to not resort to unethical marketing tactics.
However, Network Solutions have somewhat admitted to front running for “security purposes,” wherein they release these names after four days from the first search.
If a domain name you searched for becomes unavailable after a few days, chances are, someone had the same idea for a domain name and beat you to it.
That is why you need to have a list of backup domain names when searching and reserve the first one you see available.
How Can I See Who Registered a Domain?
To check who registered a domain name, you can go to whois.com.
Whois.com is an online directory where people can search who registered the domain name, their address, contact number, and when the domain name will expire.
In some cases, the person who registers a domain name can opt to hide their name and contact information.
When that happens, the domain registrars’ name and contact information is published instead.
Do Domain Registrars Auction In-Demand Domain Names?
Domain Registrars auction in-demand domain names but only for domain names that had been registered before.
These domain names are officially auctioned when the original owners let go of their rights over these names.
Domain auctions can be tricky, and that is why hiring a third-party bidder is recommended to help you get the best bids.
What Exactly is Domain Name Front Running (DNFR)?
Domain Name Front Running (DNFR) is the act where someone monitors the domain name availability of others and registers it before others can.
This practice unethical and very much frowned upon.
While many domain registrars were accused of front running before, these allegations have yet to be proven.
Is it Possible for Someone to Watch my Domain Name Searches?
People or businesses involved in DNFR activities have the ability to do this.
If they see a high-demand over a name, they can set a higher price for these domain names.
Of course, there are occasional hackers who might have accessed your computer and browser activity, which can also monitor your searches, but this is far less likely.
Should I be Worried About This?
You should be worried about this, especially if you want a particular domain name, and your business or profession relies on it for more effective marketing strategies.
That is why if you are in the business of branding and marketing, and your clients need you to help them secure their website’s domain name, you need to clinch these names immediately and without anyone knowing.
Is DNFR Illegal?
Unfortunately, it’s not illegal.
However, this is frowned upon by many Internet-rights advocates, as it restricts the rights of a person or entity to buy a domain name fairly.
Look into our article which reads about Are Domains & URLs Case Sensitive?
What are the Safest Sites to Search Domain Availability?
If you have doubts about using GoDaddy to search for the availability of a domain name, despite them coming clean over the name-snatching claims, you can consider checking “namecheap.com”.
Another option also is “dofo.com”, which scans the Internet for over 350 million registered domain names.
As an alternative, you can consider doing a Google search of the domain name you wish to use.
How do I Search Domain Names Discretely?
If you don’t want to use the services of domain registrants, here’s a trick you can do.
If you are running Mac or Linux, you can open your terminal and conduct a Whois search:
- Open terminal window and type “whois name.ext” without the quotation mark.
- Replace name with the domain name you want to use and .ext for the extension you plan to use (e.g., .com, .net, .org).
- That will pull up the information on the person who registered the domain name.
- If not one has registered the domain name, “No match” will be displayed.
If you are running Windows, download the Whois application:
- Type “whois name.ext” and replace name.ext with your chosen domain name. Don’t forget to remove the quotation marks.
- That will do a Whois search, and will show you details of the current domain registration.
- If no one owns the domain name, “No match” will also appear.
You can use InterNIC if you are not using any of the listed operating systems above.
InterNIC is a web-based service that is safe and operated by the Internet Company on Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates the use of domain names on the web.
While there is less security compared to a terminal search, you are assured that any search monitored is not sanctioned by ICANN.
As an added layer of protection, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when searching, although that is not guaranteed to ward off people who may track your domain searches.
How do I Register my Domain Name?
You will first want to make sure that you have a list of chosen names just in case you need a backup.
Research the rates of domain names before signing up. You want to get the most of your money.
Look at their terms, and how long is the duration of the registration before deciding.
Don’t jump in just because they offered a package for hosting. It is highly recommended to keep domain registration and hosting separate, in case of any issues in the future.
Once you find a domain registrant, check the availability of your chosen domain name.
You can choose to register it later, in case you want to check if other registrants have a lower price.
But if you think someone might snatch it, then go ahead and secure it.
Can Anyone Steal my Domain Name After I Register it?
Stealing a registered domain name can only be done by hackers who manage to infiltrate the backend of your website.
This is a very rare occurrence, but it can happen.
That is why you need to keep your credentials to your domain’s settings confidential, so as not to compromise the security of your website.
Remember that the only way to buy a domain name that is active and registered to you is when that person or entity approaches you to negotiate for its sale.
Your domain registrant cannot sell your domain name to another person or entity, just because they offered a higher price. That goes against ICANN regulations.
In the event hackers take your domain name despite the security measures you undertake, you can file a complaint with your registrant and ICANN to resolve this dispute.
What Can I do if Someone Steals a Domain Name Before I Register it?
This is the reason why you need to have a list of alternate domain names, in case someone beats you to it.
You can use a ‘.net.’ if someone else beats you to the ‘.com.’ domain name.
If you think that you reserve the right over a domain name, conduct a Whois search and look up the contact details of the person who registered the domain.
From there, you can contact that person and negotiate if you can have the domain name transferred to you.
Make sure you have the necessary documents to prove that you own the rights to the contested name.
How do I Secure my Domain Name?
Getting your preferred domain name is only half of the process.
Once you have registered your domain name, you need to make sure no one steals it.
So how do you ensure that your domain name stays with you?
1. Enable Domain Locking:
Domain locking prevents any unauthorized pointing of your domain to another server or website.
You must limit access to this feature for security reasons.
2. Know Your Renewal Date:
That means setting a calendar reminder to remind you every year of when you need to renew your domain.
If you have a trusted domain registrant, you can opt for automatic renewal every year, so you don’t forget about it.
3. Update Your Contact Info with your Domain Registrant:
That will allow you to be updated on any changes in fees and service interruptions.
4. Be Cautious From Scam Emails:
Hackers may attempt to steal through email, so be careful when opening links in emails from the registrant.