Have you recently stumbled upon the term ‘Handshake Domain’ or spotted it on your go-to domain registrar like NameCheap? If you’re sitting there scratching your head and wondering, “Just what is a Handshake Domain?” – you’re not alone.

In the online world, we usually start our journey by picking and registering a snappy domain name through a trusted domain registrar, right? This typical process happens within a system governed by authorities like ICANN, who look after all those .com, .net, and .org TLD’s we’re so familiar with.

But the online world is forever evolving, and there’s an innovative addition to the scene: the Handshake Domain, or HNS domain for short. So, let’s delve into the world of these HNS domains, examining their unique attributes, how they differ from traditional domains, and address the all-important question: should you use them for your blog or website in 2023?

Handshake (HNS) vs traditional DNS.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is much like a phonebook for the internet. When you enter a web address such as blogchap.com into your browser, the DNS acts as a translator, converting this easy to remember domain name into an IP address. Think of this IP address as a unique digital postcode that computers use to find your web host and bring up your website. This system, whilst tried and true, is managed by a central authority – ICANN, which some people question in terms of control, privacy, and potential censorship.

Handshake offers an alternative path. This decentralised option allows you to register and manage your Top-Level Domains (TLDs) without the oversight of an authority like ICANN. It’s not about revolutionising the internet, just offering a choice – a way to sidestep potential censorship, boost privacy, and provide more freedom in choosing your TLD. Now, you might be wondering – how does a Handshake domain work? Let’s take a look…

How does a Handshake domain work?

When we think about Handshake, we need to remember one magic word: blockchain. Yes, the same technology that powers Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies also fuels Handshake domains. It’s all about transparency and security. Imagine a public ledger, visible to everyone, where domains are registered. When a domain is added to this ledger, it’s linked to a specific blockchain address. No duplicates, no take-backs. The domain becomes unequivocally yours.

The real charm of Handshake lies in its ability to shake up the domain landscape by offering the opportunity to own your very own Top-Level Domain (TLD). The idea of a personalised TLD like .chap instead of a generic .com, .net or .org is quite appealing, isn’t it? Traditionally, bagging a TLD is a task for the big league players. They play a rigorous game of application and waiting with ICANN, the governing body for domain names, a process that can take up to two years, with no guarantee of approval.

In contrast, Handshake democratises this process. You can bid for your TLD with Handshake Coin (HNS) on sites such as Namebase. If you’re the top bidder, congratulations! You’ve just become the proud owner of your handshake TLD, a unique slice of internet real estate. But how do you get a Handshake domain? Let’s move on to that.

How to register a Handshake domain?

Registering a Handshake domain isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. It comes in two flavours:

Bidding for a TLD on the Handshake network: Here’s where it gets exciting. Platforms like Namebase facilitate this process. You participate in an auction and, if you outbid others with your HNS cryptocurrency, you get to walk away with your very own TLD. It’s like an exciting treasure hunt, where the prize is a piece of internet real estate!

Registering a domain on an existing Handshake TLD: If owning a TLD sounds like a step too far, worry not. You can stick to what feels comfortable. Registrars like Namecheap allow you to register domains on existing Handshake TLDs, paid in the familiar way you’re accustomed to.

Keep in mind, Handshake domains aren’t your run-of-the-mill domains and require a bit more technical finesse to become accessible, mainly due to the current state of browser compatibility. But don’t let that intimidate you! Let’s walk through how to make these distinct domains work for you, or at least as accessible as they currently can be.

Accessing or resolving a Handshake domain

The decentralised nature of Handshake domains means they march to a different beat when it comes to accessing or resolving them. Unlike the auto-pilot ease of typing in a traditional domain in your browser, Handshake domains need a bit of prep work. But don’t fret – it’s not rocket science, and I’ll guide you through the steps. Here are some of the ways to go about it:

  • Switch your DNS Provider: The folks at hdns.io provide DNS servers that can handle Handshake domains as well as traditional ones. To make this happen, just switch your existing DNS provider to hdns.io‘s servers. You can do this either on your router or directly on your local machine, using these addresses: and
  • Try a Browser Plugin: Not feeling like tinkering with your DNS settings? No problem. You can simply add a browser plugin like Bob Wallet for Chrome or Resolvr for Firefox, and you’ll be ready to browse Handshake domains in no time.
  • Consider a VPN: Some VPN services offer an option to resolve Handshake domains. If you already use a VPN, check if this feature is available to you. It’s like having a VIP pass to the Handshake party.
  • Install a Resolver Application: Applications like Fingertip (available for both Windows and Mac) can resolve Handshake domains for you. It’s a handy little tool to have in your digital toolbox.
  • Use a Web Resolver: If you’re not up for installing anything or changing your settings, this one’s for you. Simply visit hns.to, type your site address into the search bar at the top, and voila! You can access your Handshake domain. Alternatively, you can add “hns.to/” directly before your Handshake site address in your browser’s search bar. Easy peasy.

What can you use a Handshake domain for?

Are you wondering how to put a Handshake domain to good use? Here are some primary applications:

  • Decentralised Websites: Handshake domains are a perfect match for decentralised websites. They excel at supporting private or developmental projects that don’t need widespread access or vast amounts of traffic. Plus, they offer an added bonus: a focus on privacy and resistance to censorship.
  • Subdomain Commerce: When you own a Handshake Top Level Domain (TLD), you’re free to sell or lease subdomains under your TLD. For instance, if you’re the proud owner of the .chap Handshake TLD, you can create and sell subdomains like smart.chap or happy.chap. Registries like Namebase make this process even more straightforward by simplifying the management and sale of subdomains.
  • Redirect Your Domain: A Handshake domain can also serve as a redirection tool. If you have another domain you’d like to steer traffic towards, especially to safeguard your intellectual property or build a consistent brand, Handshake can make it happen. As the protocol becomes more popular, this use will likely grow in importance.
  • Create URL Shorteners: With some Handshake TLDs as short as a single character such as .c, they can make excellent URL shorteners. These shortened URLs are not only easy to remember but also make content access and link sharing more efficient.

Does Google index Handshake domains?

As of the time this article was written, it seems that Google doesn’t index Handshake domains, at least not in a direct manner.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital tool for any website aiming to boost its visibility. For traditional domains, employing SEO strategies is a simple process. However, with Handshake domains, things get a bit more complex.

In theory, you can still achieve a Google ranking with a Handshake domain. But often, this necessitates maintaining a parallel ‘traditional domain’ site to transfer or mirror information, which may lead you to ask, why go through the trouble? An alternative method reported is to prefix ‘hsn.to’ to your Handshake web pages, which could potentially get them indexed in Google search results. However, keep in mind that this workaround won’t index your direct Handshake domain.

Advantages of Handshake domains

Handshake domains offer several compelling benefits:

  • Enhanced Privacy and Security: Leveraging blockchain technology, Handshake domains offer secure registration that is resistant to censorship and less prone to domain hijacking attacks. Moreover, WHOIS lookups, which can reveal owner information, are not available with Handshake domains. This lack of lookups can be seen as an advantage from a privacy standpoint, even if it limits access to certain details about websites.
  • Greater Flexibility with TLDs: With Handshake, you can register any Top-Level Domain (TLD) you want, provided you win the auction on platforms like Namebase. This offers more choice and creative freedom compared to traditional domain systems.
  • Unrestricted Registrations: Handshake allows anyone to register a domain. This is a contrast to country-specific TLDs, which often require you to fulfil specific criteria.
  • Potential Investment Opportunity: As decentralised domains become more widely accepted, their value could potentially rise. This means your Handshake domain could become a valuable long-term investment.

Disadvantages of Handshake domains

Handshake domains, while innovative, do come with several challenges:

  • Limited Support: Handshake domains are a new, experimental technology and as such, they don’t yet enjoy broad browser support. Some might find the setup process a bit complex, which could dissuade those looking for ease of use and widespread compatibility.
  • SSL Certificate Generation: Handshake domains don’t natively support SSL certificates, essential for secure browsing via https. Alternative solutions exist, like using DANE via Fingertip, but these extra steps may deter users wanting a straightforward setup.
  • Limited Email Support: Although Handshake domains theoretically support outgoing mail, most email providers require domain validation via DNS records, a service not available with Handshake. Consequently, there’s a risk of emails being rejected or marked as spam, which could prove problematic for businesses reliant on email communication.
  • Search Engine Visibility: Handshake domains have limited visibility in search engines. While there are workarounds, such as setting up parallel sites or using a website proxy/resolver like hsn.to, these might not provide the wide visibility needed by mainstream blogs and websites.
  • Potential TLD Conflicts: If ICANN launches an official TLD that matches an existing Handshake TLD, most internet users will default to the ICANN version. While some Handshake DNS services might prioritise the original Handshake domain, this would only affect a small minority of internet users. The risk of losing a domain name could be a significant deterrent.

While these issues are part of the current landscape of Handshake domains, any of them could be a dealbreaker depending on individual or business needs. As the technology evolves, these challenges might be addressed, increasing the viability and attractiveness of Handshake domains.

Should you buy a handshake domain for your blog or website?

Choosing to adopt a Handshake domain for your blog or website comes down to your specific needs, your comfort with emerging technologies, and your long-term digital strategy.

Handshake domains offer enhanced privacy, the ability to choose a Top Level Domain (TLD), and a potential long-term investment. However, given the current limitations – including the lack of widespread browser support, limited email support, challenges with search engine visibility, and potential TLD conflicts – it’s fair to say that Handshake domains are not quite ready for mainstream blogs or websites. The additional setup and limited visibility could pose significant hurdles for those who seek a simple, widely accessible online presence.

For those involved in privacy-focused projects, experimental platforms, or early adopters comfortable with navigating new and evolving digital landscapes, Handshake domains could present a fascinating opportunity. However, if you value ease-of-use, broad accessibility, and immediate search engine visibility, it might be best to stick with traditional domains for the time being, until Handshake technology becomes more mature and widely supported.

Importantly, owning a Handshake domain doesn’t prevent you from also owning traditional domains. In fact, a diverse domain strategy could be wise as the digital landscape continues to evolve and grow.

Let’s wrap things up

In conclusion, while Handshake domains may not be the ideal choice for everyone at this stage, especially for mainstream blogs or websites, they represent an interesting development in the domain naming space. It’s an emerging technology, and with time, it’s likely to gain broader acceptance and support. Keeping an eye on the progress of decentralised domains could be beneficial, regardless of whether you decide to invest in a Handshake domain now.