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Traditional domains vs. blockchain domains: A step closer to a decentralized internet


An introduction to blockchain domains and how they are different from traditional domains

A domain name, such as http://www.google.com, is simply the online equivalent of a physical address for a website. A web browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari, requires a domain name to direct users to a specific website, just as a GPS requires a street address or coordinates to find a location. 

Since websites reside on web servers, users wanting to access a specific website need to connect to its server in order to view it. While this can be done using an IP address, a domain acts as a user-friendly shortcut to help users connect with the required server without having to memorize a random string of numbers.

What is a traditional domain?

The old-school internet domains are essentially centralized domain names. The majority of businesses and establishments use web addresses with extensions such as .com, .net, .biz, and hundreds of others. These domains are managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, and can be bought through a domain registrar such as GoDaddy or Bluehost.

Because centralized domains and websites are hosted in a single location, they can quickly and easily be taken down by various authorities if the content is believed to violate any laws or regulations.

In essence, owners of traditional, centralized domains don’t really own them.

How domains work

When you enter a domain name into your web browser, it sends a request to the domain name system, or DNS, which is a nationwide network of servers.

After that, these servers look up the domain name’s servers and forward the request to them. The hosting company manages these name servers and routes the request to the corresponding computer. This computer, called a web server, is equipped with specialized software and retrieves the required web page and content as requested. This data is then sent to your browser in a viewable format.

What is a blockchain domain? 

Since they use blockchains instead of centralized services, decentralized domains — extensions such as .crypto or .zil — are stored in multiple locations and are nearly impossible to take down or censor. The main value proposition of blockchain domains is that they push forward the idea of a decentralized web by eliminating the need to rely on a central authority like ICANN.

Unstoppable Domains is a service based on this concept and can currently be used for basic tasks like paying someone in crypto without needing their address or phone number. 

“But the bigger use case is to build completely user-owned websites,” said Bradley Kam, the company’s founder and head of business development.

Flaws in the traditional domain name system

The current domain name system is flawed and has numerous shortcomings, as outlined below:

Payments aren’t native

Payments were supposed to be a vital component of the internet’s design, but there were no cryptographically secure methods of sending money at the time. Only recently have tools like Stripe made accepting digital payments simple for U.S. and Western European companies. This infrastructure, however, doesn’t easily integrate with other global solutions.

Not owned by users

The existing domain system relies on a single registry that a group of approved parties can update. Registrars, such as GoDaddy and Google Domains, are examples of such parties. When you purchase a domain name, you do so directly from a registrar, who then acts as your domain’s custodian. Because registrars are custodians, they have the authority to take your domain away.

Centralized entities have full control

ICANN has complete authority over the granting of new extension permissions and charges a recurring renewal fee per domain. This is not the case with blockchain domains, which give owners full control and allow for censorship-proof websites.

Blockchain and NFTs are rapidly growing in popularity. At the current growth rate, it is possible that decentralized, blockchain-based domains will gain traction and eventually compete with traditional domains.

Unstoppable Domains partners with OKX

OKX has partnered with Unstoppable Domains in order to support wallet addresses linked to blockchain domains. This integration — apart from introducing our customers to decentralized domains — will also make withdrawing funds easier by inserting their blockchain domains as withdrawal addresses. Check out this step-by-step guide to learn more.

This article was written by Unstoppable Domains as part of their partnership with OKX.

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Disclaimer: This material should not be taken as the basis for making investment decisions, nor be construed as a recommendation to engage in investment transactions. Trading digital assets involve significant risk and can result in the loss of your invested capital. You should ensure that you fully understand the risk involved and take into consideration your level of experience, investment objectives and seek independent financial advice if necessary.