How and to what extent can blockchain decentralize domain name systems?

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In the vast expanse of the internet, the Domain Name System (DNS) is an essential component of the internet’s functionality, acting as a directory that translates user-friendly domain names (like “”) into the numerical IP addresses required for locating and identifying computer services and devices

However, traditional DNS is a hierarchical and centralized system where the registration and resolution of domain names are managed by a few key entities such as ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and various domain registrars. This centralized control presents several vulnerabilities, including censorship, privacy breaches and susceptibility to cyber-attacks (like DNS hijacking and DDoS attacks).

Enter blockchain technology. At its core, blockchain is a distributed ledger that records transactions across a network of computers, ensuring transparency, security, and immutability. These inherent features of blockchain present a tantalizing possibility: the decentralization of systems traditionally controlled by centralized entities, DNS included. The proposition of integrating blockchain into DNS promises a more secure, uncensorable, and resilient internet infrastructure, mitigating the weaknesses inherent in the current system. This essay explores the potential of blockchain to decentralize DNS, focusing on how and to what extent it’s even possible.

Decentralizing DNS with Blockchain

The decentralization of DNS through blockchain technology can be achieved affecting its registration and/or its resolution processes.

  1. Registration: The registration and ownership change of the domain can be written to a blockchain and verified publicly by any third party.

  2. Resolution: Domains have DNS records that allow it’s owner to specify where it has decided to host its website, emails or other services. Instead of querying a centralized DNS server for this information theoretically you could store these records on chain. This would make the records completely decentralized and resistant to censorship and tampering.

Extent of Decentralization: The extent to which blockchain can decentralize DNS is influenced by several factors, including technological limitations, scalability, and adoption.

One of the pivotal challenges in decentralizing DNS using blockchain technology is scalability, particularly concerning data storage. Estimating the space required to store all DNS records is complex, but rough calculations suggest a conservative figure of approximately 320GB1. To put this in perspective, the entire Bitcoin blockchain is around 500GB2, and Ethereum’s blockchain size is about 1TB3. Given these figures, it becomes evident that storing the entirety of DNS records on-chain may not be feasible.

This scalability concern has led many blockchain DNS projects to adopt a hybrid approach to data storage. Instead of storing complete DNS records directly on the blockchain, these projects often utilize cryptographic hashes or pointers that reference the DNS records. The actual records are then stored off-chain in decentralized storage systems like the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). This method leverages the security and decentralization of blockchain while mitigating the limitations associated with on-chain data storage, offering a scalable and practical solution for blockchain-based DNS.

Additionally, to avoid writing on the blockchain for every record change, MFS (Mutable File System) can be also be used. This can allow you to edit a DNS record stored on IPFS without editing the link pointing to it on the blockchain.

Moreover, the immutable nature of blockchain presents another layer of complexity in the context of DNS management. While immutability ensures security and trust by preventing unauthorized alterations, it poses challenges for updating or deleting DNS records. Anything on-chain will remain on-chain forever, losing your “right to forget”.

Additionally, the notion of relying on a single blockchain for DNS decentralization may introduce risks associated with centralization of a different kind, such as platform dependency and vulnerability to specific blockchain failures or limitations. To mitigate these risks, a multi-chain approach could be considered, where DNS records are redundantly stored across multiple blockchains or where domain owners are given the flexibility to choose their preferred blockchain platform. This strategy could enhance the robustness and fault tolerance of the decentralized DNS system but would also introduce challenges related to interoperability, consistency, and management across different blockchains. Ensuring seamless operation and user experience in such a multi-chain environment would require the development of new standards and tools for cross-chain communication and resolution.

Conclusion and Future Outlook

The potential of blockchain to decentralize the DNS is significant, offering a pathway to a more secure, transparent, and resilient internet infrastructure. However, the extent to which this decentralization can be realized depends on overcoming substantial challenges, particularly those related to scalability and data storage. The hybrid models adopted by projects like ENS, Unstoppable Domains, and others represent a practical compromise, leveraging the strengths of blockchain while addressing its limitations.

As blockchain technology continues to evolve and mature, and as solutions to current challenges are developed, the extent of decentralization achievable in DNS will likely increase. The future outlook for blockchain-based DNS is optimistic, with ongoing innovations and increased adoption heralding a shift towards a more decentralized, user-empowered internet. However, this transition will be gradual, contingent on technological advancements, regulatory frameworks, and the global internet community’s willingness to embrace this new paradigm.


  1. They are aproximately 350 million domain names registered. The number of records per domain can vary and the average size of them can also vary depending on its type (an A record will require less than a TXT record). We can conservatly estimate an average size of 100 bytes per record, and 10 records per domain giving us a total size of 320GB.