Last updated January 10, 2022
What are TLDs/domain extensions?
When trying to reach a website or an email address one always needs to add a dot at the end of its name followed by some letters. Those letters are the top-level domain (TLD), also known as domain extension or suffix. To illustrate with our own domain name ICDSoft.com: “.com” is the top-level domain and “ICDSoft” is the second-level domain. The name most meaningful to people usually comes at the second level to the left of the dot (whitehouse.gov), or in some cases at the third level (pm.gov.au).
How did domain names appear?
In the infancy of the Internet, networked computers were identified and accessed only by a string of numbers delimited by dots. These are called IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. However, they were difficult to remember, so easier to remember and use domain names were invented to simplify the access to resources on the Internet. Domain names are meaningful words or strings of characters, numbers and some punctuation marks that are matched to the IP addresses of computers (servers) by Domain Name System (DNS) servers. With the invention of the World Wide Web and the rapid growth of the number of business and personal websites since the mid 1990s, the importance of recognizable and easy to remember domain names became even more important.
The first TLDs were .arpa, .gov (government), .edu (education), .com (commercial), .mil (military), .org (organization), and .net (network). The oldest .com domain is symbolics.com.
What are the most popular TLDs?
It is not easy (may be even impossible) to get a completely accurate number of the registered domains of each TLD, as not all registries publish their domain count. That's why in the following table, we have made an overview of the data coming from 4 reputable providers: Verisign, DomainTools, W3Techs, and ZoneFiles.io. The table is sortable, just click on the title of the column.
The majority of TLDs are limited to 63 characters. That means you can't register a domain with over 63 characters.
|TLD||Verisign ↕||DomainTools ↕||W3Techs ↕||ZoneFiles.io ↕|
As you can see from the data the only thing that all reports fully agree on is that .com still reigns supreme. Dotcom has become more or less synonymous with the World Wide Web, and it doesn’t seem like it will be dethroned any time soon.
As to country-code TLDs, as long as they keep their real numbers private, all we can enjoy are various flavors of speculation.
You can find information about the providers and their methodology below:
Verisign is the US company managing the .com and .net TLDs among others, and the only entity running two (as in more than one) of the thirteen root name servers of the Internet. Verisign.com publishes a quarterly report on the state of domain name registrations. The data above comes from their Q3 2019 report.
DomainTools.com is another reputable provider of TLD statistics. They aggregate data from registries that publish data. For registries which don't publish official data, the number is approximate, based on their crawl stats. We recommend visiting their site, as it is updated in real-time and provides a nice, sortable list.
W3Techs.com use a completely different methodology. It is based on usage, not total number of registrations. They use certain checks to disqualify “spam” websites and subdomains. Visit their site for real-time updates.
Zonefiles.io use their own methods for collecting and analyzing domain usage data. They provide a basic daily report on their website, along with downloadable lists of all registered domains in the zone (that they know of). Their results may be closer to the real “popularity” numbers for TLDs, instead of total number of registered domains.
Which are the ones to avoid?
Spamhaus.org (an organization fighting spam on the Internet) maintains a list of TLDs with the worst reputation based on the amount of email spam originating from them.
Their ranking uses a formula that is based on the number of registered domains and the number of "bad" domains. We strongly recommend that you check their website for the most current list (it is updated very frequently):
How many TLDs are there?
According to the Root Zone Database of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA.org), as of January 14, 2020, there were 1578 TLDs of all types without counting the ones listed as "retired" and "test".
IANA distinguishes among the following groups of top-level domains:
Country-code top-level domains (ccTLD)
Тhese are reserved for each country, sovereign state or dependent territory which has a two-letter country code assigned under the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 standard. Examples of such domains are .us (United States), .eu (European Union), .de (Germany), .ca (Canada), .hk (Hong Kong). There are 316 such TLDs as of January 14, 2020.
An interesting fact is that many ccTLDs are often "repurposed" for other uses. For example, Armenia's .am TLD is popular among radio stations, while Djibouti's .dj TLD comes quite handy for professional DJs. Latvia's .lv is regarded as the unofficial TLD for Las Vegas. .tv is one of the most exported products of the nation of Tuvalu.
Generic top-level domains (gTLD)
The greatest number by far falls into this group, 1243 domains as of January 14, 2020. You can find here staples such as .com, .net and .org rubbing shoulders with .bingo and .blackfriday. Anyone can register domain names under these TLDs.
Sponsored top-level domains (sTLD)
These TLDs are managed by private organizations which require certain requirements to be met before you can register a domain with them. The group includes a total of 14 TLDs, the most widely-known being .gov, .edu and .mil, currently reserved for government, higher-education and military organizations in the US.
Infrastructure top-level domain
There is only one TLD in this category - .arpa, initially standing for Advanced Research Projects Agency, and now for Address and Routing Parameter Area. This TLD contains the domains used for reverse domain name resolution.
The most expensive domains in the world
It is speculated that the most expensive domain ever sold is cars.com. It was reportedly purchased for $872 million USD by the company Gannet Co., Inc.
All three-character .com domains were bought out in around 2001. So unless you had the foresight to register a three character domain about two decades ago, and you are not willing to spend anywhere from over $20k dollars to several million, sorry, you are late to the party.
Other notable sales are these of CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com, VacationRentals.com, and PrivateJet.com, but these deals usually include transfer of other assets as well, or aren't verifiable.
The following list includes only all-cash sales of domains (not websites, or businesses including domains):
|Domain Name||Sold for||Year of sale|
Where should you register your domain name?
You place a lot of trust in the company handling your domain name registration and having a reputable company for this task is of upmost importance. Many registrars have employed shady practices over the years (like "pre-registering" domains which users searched on their site, for example), so be careful when choosing.
ICDSoft has been in the domain registration and hosting business for nearly 20 years now. We are independently owned and trusted by tens of thousands of customers. We maintain a completely transparent domain pricing policy and sell domains at wholesale prices, as we believe that they should be a commodity item.
All registration, renewal and transfer prices are clearly listed, and you can find them in our domain pricing list.
Fair Pricing for Domains
ICDSoft offers domains at wholesale prices