​What Is Unstoppable Domains?

​What Is Unstoppable Domains?

Unstoppable Domains is a blockchain-based domain name system designed to facilitate the creation of the decentralised internet.

Unstoppable Domain names take the form of NFTs that can be used to point to web content, as well as being linked to crypto wallets on a large number of different blockchains. The idea is to replace complex crypto and IP addresses with simple, memorable names. Because these records are blockchain tokens, they are managed fully by the owner rather than a third party, and are secure, transferable, and censorship-resistant.

Unstoppable Domains is built on the Ethereum and Zilliqa blockchains.

How Unstoppable Domains Works

NFTs have proven a popular way to trade digital art and in-game items, but the number of use cases for them is expanding rapidly. The properties of NFTs make them ideal for managing domain names – which are, after all, simply another unique digital asset.

The traditional Domain Name System (DNS) is the so-called ‘phone book of the internet’. It maps a numerical IP address, such as 172.67.72.184, to an easy-to-remember domain name (in this case, LaborX.com). DNS records are stored in a system of databases overseen by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an American non-profit organisation. As an entry held on a centralised database, a DNS record can be deleted, edited, or removed from the user without their permission. DNS records also have to be renewed regularly, with annual fees paid.

Because Unstoppable Domains are minted as NFTs, they are 100% owned by the user and held in a blockchain wallet, just like any other NFT or cryptocurrency.

A user can link many pieces of data to their Unstoppable domain. The leading use case, though – as the name suggests – is as a domain name signifier, with the record stored in the NFT pointing to content on the web. The benefit of using an NFT for this is that the name is always controlled by the user, so the domain cannot be cancelled, taken away from them, or appropriated by someone else upon expiration. To further increase the censorship-resistant properties of the service, the record can point to a location on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralised storage system that can be used to host Unstoppable websites.

Unstoppable Domains is similar in principle to the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), which enables users to replace a long hexadecimal Ethereum address with a human-readable name.

However, there are some important differences between the two projects.

Broader Functionality Than ENS

One of the ways in which Unstoppable Domains differs from ENS is in the number of extensions it allows users to buy. ENS only has one extension: ‘.eth’. Unstoppable Domains has ten, with more being added. They are purchased as a one-off event, rather than needing to be renewed like conventional domains or ENS domains. The price varies, but once bought, they belong to the owner forever.

These top-level domains do not overlap with the conventional DNS. You can’t (yet) buy ‘.com’ or ‘.org’ extensions from Unstoppable. But you can buy blockchain-themed extensions like ‘.coin’, ‘.crypto’ and others, as well as more general ones like ‘.x’, which are not supported by ICANN. Unstoppable also allows you to buy ‘.zil’ extensions for the Zilliqa blockchain.

This alone gives users greater flexibility and choice. Just as with purchasing a conventional domain name, if one extension is not available, you might be able to pick up another for your site.

You can pay for your extensions using various options, including credit card, PayPal, and cryptocurrencies. In contrast, ENS only accepts ETH. Again, this provides greater flexibility for Unstoppable Domains, especially for users who are less familiar with crypto but still want to use the service.

Another benefit over ENS is that, alongside pointing your Domain to a website, you can also include addresses for hundreds of different cryptocurrencies (rather than just a few for ENS). So long as Unstoppable Domains is supported by the wallet you’re using, you’ll then be able to use a simple, human-readable name like ‘vbuterin.bitcoin’ to receive crypto – avoiding the complexity and potential mistakes entailed in copying and pasting long addresses.

Finally, Unstoppable Domains also acts as a crypto wallet as well as a means of purchasing domain NFTs. This further reduces the barriers to entry for those who are exploring the crypto world and are not yet confident about setting up their own wallet and managing their private keys.

Against all this, it’s worth remembering that Unstoppable Domains is a for-profit company, and exercises a degree of control over what domains can be purchased. ENS, on the other hand, is fully permissionless and is run as a public service for the Ethereum network.

Blockchain Infrastructure

Unusually, Unstoppable Domains uses Ethereum L1, Polygon, and the less well-known Zilliqa blockchains. Most domains are hosted on Ethereum and Polygon, but ‘.zil’ extensions are hosted on Zilliqa. They essentially work the same way. While Zilliqa is generally faster and cheaper to use than Ethereum, it’s less well supported and has fewer integrations, so the benefits that ‘.zil’ extensions offer is somewhat more limited. Polygon domains are also not so well supported as Ethereum mainnet-based domains.

For basic functionality like accepting crypto payments, though, there’s no real difference. You can send BTC just as easily to ‘mywalletname.zil’ as you can to ‘mywalletname.crypto’.

Cost

The cost of purchasing an Unstoppable Domain depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The length of the domain name
  • The demand for similar names
  • Whether it’s perceived to be a high-value name

Prices can be significantly higher than equivalent names on ENS, with popular names costing many thousands of dollars.

However, low-demand names and extensions can be secured for as little as $5.

To buy a domain, you’ll need to sign into the app using email or Google, or connect with MetaMask or another popular wallet.

Integrations

Unstoppable Domains can be used with popular apps including Coinbase and Rainbow wallets, OpenSea, Rarible, and many other wallets, marketplaces and services.

Brave and Opera have native support for Unstoppable Domains, so you can enter the domain name in the URL bar and be redirected to the linked website. There are also plug-ins and extensions for other popular browsers.

Although it’s not quite in the same league as ENS, Unstoppable Domains is a popular tool for those building the decentralised web, with over 200 integrations across the crypto world.