What Are Handshake (HNS) Domains?

by Sep 26, 2023Blockchain Technology0 comments

The internet has become an integral part of our lives, and domain names play a crucial role in establishing an online presence. Traditionally, domain names have been governed by centralized authorities, but a new paradigm is emerging with the advent of Handshake (HNS) domains. In this article, we will take an in-depth journey into the realm of Handshake domains, exploring their unique characteristics, the differences between Handshake (HNS) and Traditional DNS, understanding how Handshake domains work, the benefits they offer, their impact on the internet landscape, and practical steps to get started with Handshake domains.

What Are Handshake (HNS) Domains?

Handshake (HNS) domains are a type of decentralized domain name system (DNS) built on blockchain technology. Traditional DNS systems are centrally controlled, meaning that domain names are managed by centralized authorities. In contrast, Handshake aims to create a decentralized and censorship-resistant DNS by utilizing blockchain technology.

Handshake (HNS) Domains

Handshake operates on a peer-to-peer network where participants can register and manage domain names without relying on a central authority or intermediary. It is based on a blockchain that records ownership and other relevant information related to domain names. This decentralized approach aims to provide greater security, privacy, and control over domain names.

What is a Handshake Domain Used for?

Handshake domains are used for various purposes, similar to traditional domain names. Here are some common use cases for Handshake domains:

1. Website Hosting 

Handshake domains can be used to host websites and web applications. Just like traditional domains, Handshake domains provide a unique and memorable address for accessing websites on the internet.

2. Decentralized Applications (dApps) 

Handshake domains can be utilized by decentralized applications built on blockchain platforms. These dApps can leverage Handshake domains to provide users with a user-friendly and intuitive way to access their services.

3. Blockchain and Crypto Projects 

Handshake domains are often used by blockchain and cryptocurrency projects to establish their online presence. They can be used for websites, wallets, exchanges, decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, and other blockchain-based services.

4. Branding and Identity 

Handshake domains offer an opportunity for individuals and businesses to create unique and expressive domain names that reflect their brand or personal identity. They can use these domains for their websites, email addresses, or other online platforms.

5. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) 

Handshake domains are themselves considered non-fungible tokens (NFTs). As NFTs, they can be collected, bought, and sold in the digital asset marketplace. Some individuals and investors acquire Handshake domains as a form of digital asset or as part of their investment portfolio.

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6. Decentralization and Freedom of Expression 

Handshake domains provide an alternative to the traditional DNS system, offering a decentralized and censorship-resistant approach to domain name registration. They allow individuals and communities to exercise greater control over their online presence and express themselves freely without relying on centralized authorities.

Differences Between Handshake (HNS) and Traditional DNS

InfrastructureRoot ZoneResolution ChainRelies on the ICANN root zone file
HNSDecentralized DNS on blockchainAlternative root zone on its blockchainRequires Handshake-aware resolversReserves existing TLDs for managing organizations to claim
DNSCentralized infrastructureRelies on ICANN root zone fileTraditional DNS infrastructure needs integrationExisting TLDs and continuous addition of new TLDs

Handshake (HNS) and traditional DNS differ in their underlying infrastructure and governance model. Here is an explanation of the key differences:

Handshake (HNS) Domains

1. Infrastructure 

Traditional DNS relies on a centralized infrastructure managed by organizations like ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). It operates on a hierarchical system with a root zone file that serves as the authoritative source for domain name resolution. In contrast, Handshake is a decentralized DNS built on blockchain technology. It replaces the need for a centralized authority by utilizing a distributed network of nodes that maintain the DNS records on the blockchain.

2. Root Zone

Traditional DNS relies on the ICANN root zone file, which contains the list of top-level domains (TLDs) such as .com, .org, and country-code TLDs like .us or .uk. Handshake introduces an alternative root zone on its blockchain. However, it does not aim to replace or eliminate the traditional root zone entirely. Instead, Handshake operates alongside the traditional DNS system, offering an alternative decentralized root zone.

3. Resolution Chain

To resolve an HNS domain, there must be a Handshake-aware resolver in the resolution chain. This means that the traditional DNS infrastructure needs to integrate with Handshake-aware resolvers to recognize and resolve HNS domains. This integration allows traditional DNS users to access HNS domains seamlessly.

4. Compatibility 

Traditional DNS has a vast number of existing TLDs, and new ones continue to be added regularly. Handshake aims to ensure compatibility with these existing TLDs. It reserves the existing TLDs for managing organizations to claim on the Handshake blockchain over a three-year period. This approach allows organizations to maintain their current TLDs while exploring the benefits of Handshake’s decentralized DNS.

How Do Handshake Domains Work?

Handshake domains work by leveraging blockchain technology to create a decentralized system that bypasses the traditional DNS (Domain Name System). Here’s a simplified breakdown of how Handshake domains function:

Handshake (HNS) Domains

1. Decentralized Root Zone 

Handshake domains operate outside the control of organizations like ICANN. Instead, they create a decentralized root zone file that is accessible to anyone. This means that individuals can create their own top-level domains (TLDs) without having to go through a centralized authority or pay for it.

2. Creative Domain Names

Handshake domains provide greater freedom in choosing domain names. Users can create unique and expressive TLDs that reflect their brand or identity. For instance, instead of using conventional extensions like .com or .org, users can use extensions like .crypto, .art, or .music.

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3. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) 

Handshake domains are also considered non-fungible tokens. Each domain has unique properties and characteristics, making them valuable and collectible. Their ownership and history can be verified and traced on the blockchain. Handshake domains can be bought and sold on secondary marketplaces as well.

4. Handshake Wallet

To interact with Handshake domains, users need a Handshake wallet. It’s a software or hardware tool that enables users to create and manage their domain names and transactions. Handshake wallets can be integrated with regular Bitcoin wallets or exist as standalone applications.

5. Auction Process

Creating a Handshake domain involves participating in an auction process facilitated by Handshake’s software. Users bid for their desired TLD using HNS tokens, the native cryptocurrency of Handshake. The auction process consists of four phases:

  • Opening: Users pay a small fee to open an auction for their desired TLD.
  • Bidding: Users place encrypted bids in HNS tokens. Bids remain hidden until the reveal phase.
  • Reveal: Bidders reveal their bids by submitting decryption keys. The highest bidder wins the auction and pays the second-highest bid plus a fee. Other bidders receive refunds minus a fee.
  • Register: The auction winner can register their TLD on the blockchain by paying a fee. They can then create and manage subdomains under their TLD.

6. Handshake-aware Resolver

To access Handshake domains, users require a Handshake-aware resolver. This software or hardware device translates Handshake domain names into IP addresses. Handshake-aware resolvers can be integrated with regular DNS resolvers or exist as separate applications, such as browser extensions or mobile apps.

What Are the Benefits and Challenges of Using Handshake Domains?

Decentralization: Users have more freedom and autonomy over their domain names.Compatibility: Handshake domains require a Handshake-aware resolver for access.
Security: Handshake domains are secured by the underlying Bitcoin blockchain.Usability: Handshake domains may have complexities in creation, management, and access.
Privacy: Handshake domains do not reveal personal or sensitive information.Regulation: Handshake domains may pose legal, ethical, and content-related challenges.
Innovation: Handshake domains enable creative and expressive domain names and applications.
Handshake (HNS) Domains


  • Decentralization: Handshake domains are not controlled by any centralized authority, which means that users have more freedom and autonomy over their domain names. Users can create any TLD they want without having to apply for it or pay for it. Users can also own and manage their domain names without having to rely on intermediaries or third parties.
  • Security: Handshake domains are secured by the underlying Bitcoin blockchain, which acts as a court system that can resolve any disputes or frauds that may occur off-chain. Handshake domains are also resistant to hacking or censorship, as they are stored on a distributed network of nodes that can verify and validate transactions.
  • Privacy: Handshake domains are private, as they do not reveal any personal or sensitive information about their owners or users. Handshake domains also use the onion routing technique, which encrypts and obfuscates the domain information as it travels through multiple hops.
  • Innovation: Handshake domains are innovative, as they allow users to create more creative and expressive domain names that reflect their identity or brand. Handshake domains also enable users to create and use new applications and services that leverage the power of blockchain and NFTs.
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Using Handshake domains also has some challenges, such as:

  • Compatibility: Handshake domains are not compatible with the traditional DNS system, which means that users need to have a Handshake-aware resolver to access them. This may limit the reach and adoption of Handshake domains, as not all users may have or want to use a Handshake-aware resolver.
  • Usability: Handshake domains are not as user-friendly as traditional domain names, which means that users may face some difficulties or inconveniences in creating, managing, and accessing them. For example, users may have to deal with complex auction processes, encryption keys, fees, and technical issues.
  • Regulation: Handshake domains are not subject to any regulation by governments or authorities, which means that users may face some legal or ethical issues in using them. For example, users may have to deal with trademark disputes, intellectual property rights violations, illegal content, or tax implications.

How to Buy a Handshake Domain?

To buy a Handshake domain, you can follow these steps:

  1. Get Handshake Tokens: Get some Handshake tokens (HNS) because you need them to bid and own the domain.
  1. Choose a Registrar: Pick a Handshake domain registrar. They help with the auction and registration process. Some popular registrars are Namebase, HNS Domains, and Dynadot.
  1. Connect a Wallet: Create or connect a cryptocurrency wallet that supports Handshake (HNS). This wallet stores your HNS tokens and helps with bidding and registration. Make sure your wallet works with the registrar you chose.
  1. Find Available Domains: Use the registrar’s platform to search for Handshake domains that are available. You can explore their website or use their search tool to find the domain you want.
  1. Join the Auction: When you find the domain you want, place a bid using the registrar’s platform. Bidding involves using your HNS tokens to compete with others. Follow the registrar’s instructions and rules for the auction.
  1. Win and Complete Registration: If your bid is successful, you will own the Handshake domain. Finish the registration process by following the registrar’s instructions. This may include making payment, providing details, and linking the domain to your wallet.
  1. Manage and Configure Your Domain: After registration, you can manage and configure your Handshake domain. This might involve setting up DNS records, connecting the domain to web hosting, or configuring other services.

How to Access a Handshake Domain?

  1. DNS Resolver: Make sure your DNS resolver or DNS resolver settings support Handshake domains. You can use dedicated Handshake resolvers or traditional DNS resolvers that work with Handshake.
  1. Handshake Resolver Setup: If you’re using a dedicated Handshake resolver, set it up on your device or network. This usually involves configuring the resolver’s IP address in your DNS settings. Check the documentation or support resources provided by the Handshake resolver service for specific instructions.
  1. Traditional DNS Resolution: Handshake domains can still be accessed with traditional DNS resolvers. Handshake domains are made to work with traditional DNS infrastructure through a compatibility bridge in the Handshake network.
  1. Web Browser or Application: Once your DNS resolver is ready for Handshake domains, you can access them using a web browser or application. Just type the Handshake domain name into the address bar or relevant input field, similar to a traditional domain.
  1. DNS Caching: Keep in mind that DNS resolution involves caching, so changes to DNS settings or domain ownership might take some time to spread across the network. If you have trouble accessing a Handshake domain, you can try clearing your DNS cache or waiting for it to update.


We hope that this article has helped you understand what Handshake domains are and how they work. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for reading and happy handshaking!

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