If a domain is going to expire, it will be available again to find a new owner. Expressing your interest in securing a domain name before it is available for hand-registration is called backorder or domain backorder. While the rules are the same for manual and software-based registrations, there is no chance that one can compete with infrastructure and softwares especially designed for catching expired domains, this is why one has to use a specialized service for backordering. Although this is only true for good domain names. If you are sure that you are the only one who is interested in an expiring domain, there is no need to use a backorder service, the domain can simply registered again without backorder costs.
Where to backorder a domain?
While many registrars and companies offers backorder services, most of them are only successful if there is no competition. And if there is no competition, why should someone use a backorder service anyway?
If there is a competition and you want to secure your domain, you must use more than one service. The following companies are successful in catching dropping domains:
Snapnames, minimum backorder fee is $69 (only has to pay if the domain is secured), which will be the minimum starting price of the auction. Auctions are closed, only bidders who backordered the domains can participate.
Namejet, minimum fee is $59 (only has to pay if the domain is secured). Auctions are closed, domains must be backordered to be able to bid on auction. They show the number of interested bidders on a given domain so you can estimate the competition for the given domain. Below 10 it is a low competition, 10-100 is a moderate competition, while the best names usually are backordered by more than 100 users. Of course final price is heavily dependent on the competition.
The third successful backorder company is Dropcatch, however backorder is almost just a notification service there, since auctions are open and everyone can participate in the auction there, auctions starting at $59.
These 3 services will catch almost all good domain names, about 95% or more. Backorder your domain with all of these so you will surely participate in the auction. If this chance is still not high enough, using the following less successful services will maximize the chances:
Backorderzone was a great backorder company once but did not secure a single name for me in the last year.
You can use Ukrnames as well, if you are brave enough, they are catching sometimes pretty good names but the success rate is dropping heavily.
While GoDaddy also has a backorder service, it is really no point using that, since they will openly auction off the domain names that are registered at GoDaddy, while they cannot catch any external domain.