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Someone I have met has a website which has gone down. They have a facebook presence and Google still returns business information (telephone numbers and the like) so all is not lost. I mentioned that the website returns a "Server DNS address could not be found" when accessed through Chrome. The story he gave me was that he had an arrangement with someone who hosted it in exchange for discounts (engineering firm). After the person left the scene he's apparently not returning calls and has removed the website.

A bit of work via WhoIs has shown me that the person is still listed as the registrant, but the address (a .co.uk domain) has expired - about the same time that the site went offline apparently. I looked a little further but the site is not yet available for purchase. So I am assuming that the guy has just let the domain expire and not actively removed it.

Is there a way of safe guarding the domain such that the company can purchase it for themselves and prevent the fastest trigger squatting it? I found Nominet resolution process but it should be easier than going through a resolution process.

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The only 100% safe way is to contact the current registrant and sign an agreement with him to transfer the domain name to you. Any other option will mean that the domain name may be (there is not even a 100% possibiloty here, as there are grace periods after expiration, and the current owner can renew it) dropped, at which point an indefinite number of companies may try to catch it, so you will never have any 100% guarantee to get it.

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The best bet is, if at all possible, to contact the original owner to have him pass over the control of the domain. The next best option is to work with the registrar, who may be able to work with you to contact the account owner, or they may have some other ability to help you. The last, and worst option, is to wait for it to completely expire.

Once a domain name expires, it is given a grace period. As the site is now not available, that may be a sign that this grace period has passed. After the grace period, there is a "redemption" period. This period of time allows the registrar to give the owner a little more time to redeem the domain, but they will often charge a heavy fee to retrieve a domain name from redemption. This fee is often around $100. This is still better, if it is available, because it is the last chance you have to be sure to acquire the domain.

Once the redemption period has passed, the registrar will release the domain. In a perfect world, you would just go register it at that time. However, there are many scavenger buyers who watch for expiring domains and snatch them up as they come back on the market. They don't do this because they have any desire to use them, but because they feel confident that if somebody had wanted them before, somebody else will want them again. Sadly, there is currently no law against this, and these organizations will often charge large amounts of money, often in the thousands of dollars. Even if you do decide that this sort of investment is worth it for you, there's still the chance that somebody else thinks it's worth it for them, even if for nothing more than capitalizing on the SEO benefits. So, it's not a guarantee.

Therefore, if you simply can't gain access to the domain through the named registrant, then you're probably better off looking for some new domain and start working toward moving away from it. That means updating your links and email addresses, etc. With proper planning you may be able to minimize the impact of a new domain name. Also, remember that there are many TLDs out there now. So, you might be able to find a similar name with a different TLD. When you do, next time, be sure to leave your own information on it as the registrar, and maybe consider auto-renewal. I've had to learn the same lesson, myself, and it is not fun.

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