Tag Archives: NAS Server

What You Need to Build A Domain Drop List

Nomient Logo

Nomient Logo

This article is going to be a 4 part jobby, with a few side articles possibly, as it turned out to be somewhat longer than I expected. Most people reading this blog will know what a drop list is, but you may not know how to make one or how much effort and expense goes into it. Currently a lot less effort goes into since Nominet released the zone files. The old way will be one of the side articles I cover another time.

What is a drop list is quite a simple question; a list of domains due to expire on any given day. I’m going to talk about what you need to build one in this post, and in the next one how you build your own drop list and the costs you will likely incur in both parts. After that it will be an article on maintaining the drop list and buying drop lists in the final part. Some of the methods are hard earned lessons, which will save you time. I won’t be giving all my secrets away, some will be old methods, so there are better ways to do it, but they still work. I will also be dropping in some chunks of code too, the missing bits will be easy enough with basic coding skills which I assume you have.

Where To Start ?

Building your own drop list, isn’t too hard. It is however quite costly and time consuming, not to mention fraught with rules from Nominet. The rules are somewhat open to interpretation so I’m not going to go there, better to speak to Nominet directly about them.

Nominet Membership

Firstly a Nominet Tag is required, which is FREE, however this isn’t enough, a Nominet Membership is required. This membership costs £400+Vat to Join, then £100+Vat per year membership.

You will also need DAC Access which is £25+VAT per year, that’s the last of the Nominet costs, but not the end.

A list of Fee’s are available here… Nominet Fee Schedule, you can see the main benefit here is the cost of domains at wholesale prices, but direct access to Nominet systems is essential for list building and drop catching.

Suitable Hosting

Suitable hosting is quite subjective, but I would recommend a VPS Hosting Account. This is because shared hosting almost certainly won’t be suitable. You’ll hit your resource limits and get an get somewhat unhappy email from your host, if not asking you to upgrade or sling your hook.

A suitable VPS will cost you anywhere from £10-30 per month. This is assuming you are comfortable and able to manage a Linux Server and install PHP, MySQL, Apache and manage the required security updates yourself. Otherwise a Managed VPS will be possibly £30-80+ per month, do your own research and choose wisely.

An important factor here to remember is, unlike with Drop Catching where the speed between your server and Nominet is Critical, in this instance it doesn’t matter at all, so cheap with a decent reputation and good support is your objective.

Alternatives to VPS and Shared Hosting

I have heard of people doing this on a business hosting account, which is often half way between a low end VPS and a standard shared account or more simply a shared hosting account with more resources.

There are also a number of people who have claim they used an install of WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL and PHP 0r MAMP (Mac, Apache, MySQL an PHP) on a local machine, machine on their network or even on their own PC.

You could also build such a thing on a local NAS Server like a Synology NAS Server or qNAP or any other for that matter. I personally have a test environment on one of my Synology units and see no reason most 2-Bay units wouldn’t be able to handle a project of this size.

These routes are worth looking in to, but I can’t comment on any of them with regards to efficacy, as I haven’t done them.

Apply for Zone File Access

Once you’re 1, a Nominet Member with DAC Access, 2, have your hosting sorted, you need apply to Nominet for Zone File access. You have to be a Nominet Member to gain access to this. When you’ve been granted Zone File access, you need to download and process the file. I blogged on the .UK Zone File Release, to give you an idea of the process.

Nominet Zonefile Zip File Content

Nominet Zonefile Zip File Content

The file you will download is around 240mb; a zip file which contains 9 unique files inside (see right). These are individual Zone File for each available extension under the .UK ccTLD, all managed by Nominet. Exacting them all will consume just over 1.5GB of storage, more or less depending on destination disk format.

Even though there are 9 files in the archive there are only 2 types of file.

1, Zone Files, these contain details about the zone, along with domains and their name servers. We won’t be using these, for drop lists we don’t need name servers.

2, Database Dump, which is a Comma Separated Value (CSV) file.

The CSV file is a literally just a list of domains, with nothing in there which makes it very very easy to process and quite fast. It will look like the list below…


Its important to note, neither the individual zone files, or the database dump contain any dates, tags or anything more other than domain names or domain names, zone data and name servers.

In Part 2, I will discuss bringing the above together to actually build a drop list.

Happy Birthday to Me

Nas Layout

Nas Layout

You know its your birthday when you pick up a Synology DS716+ NAS Server for under £200, well £188 from Amazon in the Lightening Sale.

I own a few Synology units (current set up to the right) and have owned various others dating back to 2010/2011 and for the most part they are spectacularly good. I re-purpose the older units within my network, the oldest is a DS211+ currently the Media NAS. The newest is the External Hitachi Touro HDD which does a weekly image of the Main NAS. I did want to buy an 8 Bay NAS to Raid 6 it, but this were a killer deal.

This particular model (DS716+) has been replaced with the Synology DS716+II, so it were EOL (End of Lined) or Discontinued hence the price.

Speculation of Change

There has been a little speculation as why they updated the model to the Mk2 (II) given the lack of serious updates. Some have speculated that Synology maybe taking their lead from other NAS players in the market who release multiple versions of the same NAS with different specs. They currently already do this, but I don’t buy that as reason here, lets look at the DS216 which does have various flavours.

DS216 SE Marvel Single Core 800mhz, 256mb DDR3 (Buy Here £103.04).
DS216 J Marvel Dual Core 1.0ghz, 512mb DDR3 (Buy Here for £129.44).
DS216 Play STM Dual Core 1.5ghz, 1gb DDR3, +HW Encoder, +Transcoder (Buy Here for £191.99).
DS216 Marvel Dual Core 1.3ghz, 512mb DDR3, Hot Swappable, USB Clone, Upgradable Ram, Released Feb 2015 (Buy Here for £213.99).
DS216+II Intel Dual Core 1.6ghz, Burstable 2.48ghz, 1gb DDR3, +HW Encoder, +Hot Swappable, +USB Clone, +eSATA Port, Upgradable Ram, Released June 2016, (Buy Here for £259.94).

Synology Diskstation DS716

Synology Diskstation DS716

You can see the spec changes and price point between flavours is quite dramatic, just looking the DS216 and DS216+II and the change is huge, now lets look at the DS716+I and DS716+II.

Synology DS716+I: Intel Celeron N3150 Quad-Core (Released Jan 2015), clocked at 1.6ghz and burstable to 2.08ghz, Released Jun 2015. (Buy Here for £357.84)
Synology DS716+II: Intel Celeron N3160 Quad-Core (Released Jan 2016), clocked at 1.6ghz and burstable to 2.24ghz, Released Apr 2016. (Buy Here for £378.56)

Everything else is nigh on identical, as best I can tell it is identical apart from the little print (shown on the right). In all likelihood that’s the same chip just modified a touch by Intel.

I tend to agree with the few who say due to the stellar success of this model (and the chip), it exhausted the chips availability thus Intel discontinued the chip and brought forward the next iteration and thus opening a new stockpile of chips.

Hard Drives for NAS Servers

Retired Deskstars

Retired Deskstars

I always choose hard drives carefully, after having been burned quite badly simply by choosing the cheapest big brand (begins with S). So for the last 6yrs maybe 7 yrs with spinning drives I have always run HGST Deskstars (I briefly used Samsung F4’s too) and not had a single disk failure.

Its quite ironic that back in the day around the late 1990s and early 2000s, I were around when IBM Deathstars were vaporising into dust. IBM Deskstars and Travelstars (along with its HDD business) were sold to Hitachi in 2003 who turned it around quite dramatically. This is an interesting post, showing a tear down of a deathstar. Hitachi were then bought out by Western Digital (WD) who appear to have used Hitachi Magic to improve their WD Red NAS Drives, rather than degrade Hitachi’s Legacy.

The above image is one of my retired Hitachi Deskstars (before the HGST rebrand), this batch ran continuously in a 2 Bay NAS then into a 4 bay Synology NAS before being retired. This were the final disk to be replaced on my replacement cycle hence its a few months overdue a refresh. After 3 years, 4 months, 3 weeks and 3 days continuous operation not a single error or bad sector. All the others are similar, no errors, no bad sectors, nothing but perfect service.