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Expired domain names do not expire exactly on the date you might find using a domain whois. The registrar companies usually will grant a grace period (anywhere from 2 weeks to forty days) and then there is another thirty day grace period granted by the registry before a domain is available to the public again.
*To be sure you can get the domain when it *really* expires, it is a good idea to consider backorder domain names (getting on a list to receive the domain when it becomes available).
Unavailable, occupied, engaged…
If domain name availability for a domain you want is, well, unavailable, you will have no choice but to try other variants of the name.
Almost every domain name registration service offers name suggestions based on your keywords of your business. For example, while the name "GreatComputers.Com" might be unavailable, a domain name suggestion service might come back with awesomecomputers.com, great-computers.com and other similar domain names or the same domain is various extensions.
*Experiment with such tools until you find the domain name that fits you best (or try looking in the thesaurus).
“Me next! Me next!” The best way to make sure you have access to an expired domain name is to sign up to backorder domain names. When you backorder a domain, you place yourself on a waiting list for when that domain becomes available.
Once a domain is available, the people on the waiting list are contacted to purchase the expired domain. While there is no guarantee you will receive the domain name, the sooner you put yourself on the list, the better your odds.
If you have an expired domain name, you can renew the domain at any domain name registration website. However, if the registrar is different, you will have to handle the same procedures as when you transfer a domain name.
While not difficult, make sure you have access to the email address that you used when you initially registered the domain name so that you can approve the transfer / renewal message.