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NEW STUDY: Which Domains Get Kept and Which Get Dropped? [Data on .COM vs Everything Else]

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Which Domains Get Kept

We choose to keep just 30% of the domains we register, according to our new research into domain registration behavior across the leading top-level domains (TLDs).

Have you ever had a great idea for a website and purchased the domain - only to let it lapse a year later? This isn't uncommon.

We set out to find how often people let domains lapse each year (churn rate) and which of the most popular TLDs suffer the most from this.

On analyzing the data sample, which covers one million domains, registered across the eight leading TLDs, we found that just 29.79% of domains are renewed each year. Of the 70.21% of domains that are not renewed, 41.22% are left to expire, while 28.99% are registered by other users.

Whether we're ditching the domains due to high second-year costs, or simply struggling to follow through with our ideas after an impulsive, speculative or optimistic registration, the data shows fewer than one in three domains are renewed each year.

Richard Kershaw at WhoIsHostingThis.com said: "We wanted to find out more about domain registration behavior so we commissioned this study of one million domains - it turns out the churn rate for domains is much much higher than I think many would expect."

The Research

Here at WhoIsHostingThis.com, we wanted to understand more about our behavior when it comes to domain registrations: how many domains are renewed, how many are re-registered by other registrants, and how many are left to expire and go back on sale?

To explore these questions and uncover other trends, we got in touch with Whois XML API, the leading domain Whois, DNS, IP, and cyber threat intelligence data provider to everyone from Fortune 500 companies to government agencies and cybercrime units.

The Sample

Whois XML API collected data on one million domains registered on the most popular eight TLDs by the number of domain registrations. All are gTLDs apart from the ccTLD .CN (People's Republic of China), but some might surprise you.

The randomly selected sample was made up of the following domains:

TLDSample Size

Whois XML API looked at the number of unique domain names created since 2012. This was followed up by analyzing how many domains were registered but did not renew their registration in the first year. As well as how many domains were registered by an initial registrant who failed to renew with the domain being picked up by a potential squatter.

Our Findings

Which TDLs Get Dropped - Animation

Only 30% of domains registered are kept after one year

Of the one million domains making up the sample, only 29.79% of domains were kept by the registrants. 70.21% of domains were not renewed, either being left to expire (41.22%) or re-registered by others (28.99%).

Renewal rates vary significantly by TLD.

The TLDs that saw the highest percentage of domains kept after a year were .NET, .ORG, and .INFO, with renewal rates of 46.31%, 44.24% and 34.56%.

The TLDs with the lowest percentage of renewals were .TOP, .BIZ, and .CN, with renewal rates of 22.22%, 16.60% and 1.72%.

Domains Renewed

Over two in five domains are left to expire each year

41.22% of the domains analyzed were ditched altogether, with registrants allowing them to expire and become available to others.

The TLDs with the highest percentage of dropped domains were .CN with a huge 97.19%, .XYZ with 58.33%, and .BIZ with 50.04%.

Those with the lowest portion of domains left to expire were .COM with 43.12%, .ORG with 28.85%, and .NET with 19.28%.

Domains Not Renewed

28.99% of domains are re-registered by other users

28.99% of the domains in the sample were not renewed and instead re-registered by another user.

.NET (34.41%), .TOP (33.75%), and .BIZ (33.36%) were the TLDs with the highest re-registration rates.

.XYZ (16.82%), .INFO (15.54%), and .CN (1.10%) saw the lowest re-registration rates.

Domains With Registrant Updated

The average churn rate for domains is over 70%

Registrants chose not to keep 702,133 of the one million domains analyzed: that's a churn rate of 70.21%.

When we break this down by TLD, we can see that the TLDs with the highest churn rates are .CN (98.28%), .BIZ (83.40%), and .TOP (77.78%).

Those with the lowest churn rates are .INFO (65.44%), .ORG (55.76%), and .NET (53.69%).

Domain Churn Rate

The churn rate for .CN domains is through the roof at over 98%

While the average churn rate for domains is already over 70%, the churn rate for .CN domains is much much higher, reaching 98.28%.

Of those not kept, only 1.10% were re-registered by someone else. Only 1.72% of .CN domains were renewed.

.COM domain registrations vs the rest

The .COM TLD is the most popular. Of those we analyzed, 28.09% were kept and 71.91% dropped. Of those dropped, 28.79% were re-registered by other users, while the biggest percentage, 43.12%, were left to expire.

The Data

TLD Study Data Summary

Access our data here. Please be sure to cite WhoIsHostingThis.com as the source if you re-use the data for your own projects.

Our Methodology

To produce this report, we commissioned Whois XML API to collect a sample of one million domains across eight TLDs by number of domain registrations per year.

The data was gathered in October 2019 for the sole purpose of preparing this report.

No personal information, for the purposes of GDPR, was processed for this study.

If you have questions about the methodology or the study in general, please contact us. We'll be happy to answer them.

Frank Moraes

About Frank Moraes

Frank has worked in the tech industry since the early 1990s — as a writer, programmer, and manager. He’s an insatiable blogger and “Don Quixote” fanatic. In his spare time, Frank writes experimental plays — usually involving puppets like Grumpy Squirrel in his image.


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February 25, 2020

It’s pretty incredible to see the concentration of .com domains prevail, even alongside such useful and practical alternative TLDs.

I often find that smaller niche affiliate websites juggle sub-premium TLDs. Assuming this has something to do with black hat SEO practices, domain hoarding and dashing lower level, often cheaper TLDs would make an awful lot of sense.

I wonder why the churn rate for .CN domains is so high? It would be interesting to see further elaboration on that matter.

.XYZ domains seem popular amongst developers for some reason. Several Quora and Reddit threads indicate so anyhow, perhaps this is a geeky abbreviation that appeals?