Here is a short explanation of what happens when a domain name expires (for .com/.net/.org/.info/.biz/.us. domains):

So what happens if you choose not to renew your domain name at the end of the billing cycle or a competitor whose domain you have been watching goes down?
Generally speaking, once a domain name expires, the owner has between 1-75 days in order to renew it, and the costs that are associated with a renewal, usually increase as the domain moves from Hold (Registrar-Hold) to RGP (Redemption Grace Period).
During the Hold and RGP stage, the DNS (Domain Name Server), e-mail and web services cease to work for the expired domain. The domain is removed from the zone file and does not appear to resolve (cannot find server error is displayed in the browser).
Once a domain reaches the final deletion stage in the cycle (also known as PendingDelete) it can no longer be renewed and it is marked for deletion by the registry.
There are approximately 35,000 domain names that go through the "PendingDelete" cycle daily.
After the 5 day "PendingDelete" cycle (a registrar may also chooses to immediately delete a domain), a domain drops and once again becomes available for registration on the open market through registrars.
Here are some interesting facts about the domain drop cycle that you may not know:
  • 120,000 to 200,000 domains expire daily due to non-renewals. Many of these are renewed as soon as the registrant realizes that their e-mail or site no longer works.
  • 25,500 to 60,000 domains drop (become available) daily as part of the regular drop cycle.
  • Approximately 1.5 million domains are registered and dropped daily as part of domain tasting.
  • The official drop time for .com/.net is between 11 AM and 2 PM Pacific time (domains are deleted in batches throughout this time period).
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