The operator of the .hk.com domain plans to close Internet sites related to about 1,900 expired domain name accounts today after warning customers to pay up or else. Sarnic founder Maren Leizaola said the subscriptions expired in April and the company had been sending notices to the domain name customers by post, fax and e-mail since then. 'We've had a good number returned by the post,' Mr Leizaola said. The sites to be switched off today represent about one-quarter of the 7,555 registered by Sarnic. Similar domain-name clean-ups have been conducted by registrars globally over the past year, resulting in a large number of names that had been bought during the dotcom boom - but never used - being cleared off the world's servers. The move underlines the more level-headed approach Internet companies are now adopting, as well as the end of the speculative domain-name registration game. 'This is our first big clean out. We've actually got resellers who owe us money. They've got to pay or go elsewhere,' Mr Leizaola said. Some site names related to trademarks will be among those released, although most will be generic terms such as cracker.hk.com. Big name companies such as Compaq, L'Oreal and Standard Chartered are renewing for multiple years, he said. 'What I am seeing on the brand names that are being renewed is that the name matches the name on the cheques. And they're paying full-on for multiple years,' Mr Leizaola said. Sarnic's customer base is smaller than that of Hong Kong Domain Name Registration, which has just over 61,000 registered domains ending in .com.hk. Mr Leizaola said the .com.hk domain name space had not yet been cleared of inactive or non-paying accounts, but would eventually need to be. Some bulk buyers of more than 50 domain names and partners that have site hosting deals with Sarnic have asked for discounts, but Sarnic is not about to relent, given that it is barely covering its own costs. The latest Netcraft Web survey, which probes the Internet for hosted sites, found there were responses from 37.23 million. However, only about 15.37 million of those sites are active, according to Netcraft.