Domain Name Search

Yup, domain names are very important for every business, project or idea you want to spread on the Internet. Many people spend a log of energy on finding the perfect name only to find out that the relevant “.com” domain has been taken. It is not a surprise South Park has an episode on that.

There are three major ways to perform a domain name search and see if the domain you are looking for is FREE.

First - check the domain availability directly on your domain name registrar

This is the go-to method for most people. It is the most direct and works in general. Why “in general”? Because you should trust your domain name registrar. It is not easy to prove; however, it is believed that some registrars are involved in Cybersquatting. You can read this relevant thread on Hacker News - Tell HN: Never search for domains on Godaddy.com. What is happening is that you search for your shiny new domain name, it is FREE, but you decide to postpone buying it immediately. However, a few days later, when you have mustered up the enthusiasm to buy the name, you find out that your name is already taken. Believe me, it’s a very saddening feeling.

The tricky part is that by using their search, registrars KNOW which domain names you are interested in as well as the trendy names that people, on the whole, are looking for. So, they have the data and means to buy those domains and then try reselling them for more (Cybersquatting). Of course, if they are caught doing that, it could be detrimental to their business. That’s why I still believe that most registrars are not doing it. Yet you never know.

Second - check availability through a third-party service

This is one of the options I’ve been using from time to time. These are utility services that make money when they refer you to the domain name registrars. For example, NameBounce and its alternatives can generate a few dozens of free domain names based on a keyword. In my opinion, this is a bit safer as long as you use a generic keyword. In most cases the base “keyword.com” will be taken but you will be given a list of dozens of other free options (e.g. KeywordLife.com MaxKeyword.com, etc) So, whoever knows that you have interest in keyword.com, they can’t know which of the other hundred options you’ve decided to use. Moreover, it will be very expensive to grab all of them.

Third - go “bare metal” and ask the official WHOIS database.

This is not the most straightforward option, but it is the most secure way to perform a domain name search and check if a name is available. What you have to do is opening a terminal typing whois my-domain-name.com (whois -v my-domain-name.com if using Windows) and reading/interpreting the results.

In the response from the server, you can find out who and when registered the name and if it is free. There are two inconveniences following this approach. You have to read all the data (a few screens) that was returned and learn to read it. That may take some time if you don’t have experience. If the name is free, somewhere at the end of the whois-response, there will be a line like No match for domain "SAASHUB123.COM".. Then, when you decide, just go and register the domain.

As this third option is my preferred approach for checking names, I’ve been using a simple bash script that automates the boring parts. You can copy-paste it from this Github gist - domain_check.sh. To set it up, copy that script to your ~/bin directory, chmod 755 ~/domain-check.sh and list all extensions (separated by a space) in the DOMAINS=( '.com' '.io' ) section.

Then checking for an available name is as simple as opening your terminal, and you don’t have to worry that someone will register the same name tomorrow.

stan@StansMacBook15:~$ domain_check.sh saashub123
saashub123.com - available
saashub123.io - available


And remember to follow “The 3 day domain name rule” before buying any new names.

Stan
Sep 18, 2020
// Tech

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