Updated Feb 2015. It is impossible to be absolutely certain how many there are but UK research company Netcraft have released their latest Jan 2015 survey of web servers and concluded there are about 876 million website names in the world today – a decrease of 152 million (15%) in the last 3 months.
Interestingly, the number of active websites is only 177 million – so there are 699 million inactive sites. That suggests that 80% of all the websites in the world are not actually being used to host an active site on that domain name – but why not?
We think it is because many of these will be domain names bought to cover every possible eventuality e.g. a large company like Apple will buy the Apple .info and .net domain names (and many others) to prevent cyber-squatters misusing them to profit from the goodwill of the Apple trademark. These ‘ghost’ domain names simply redirect browsers to the primary domain name e.g. apple.com
Other inactive sites could be speculative domain names registered by individuals e.g. you might register your-own-name.com just in case you ever become famous 😉 And the rest are domain names that have been pre-registered in bulk by domain companies to sell off later.
As shown in the graph below, it’s astonishing that 5 years ago (Jan 2010) the total number of website names was only 206 million – just 23% of the current total. The rise of the internet is further shown by the fact that the total number of new sites added in the whole of 2010 was just 49m – nowadays that rate of increase can be achieved in just 1 month!
However the total number of active sites has remained much the same for the last 3 years. It’s almost impossible to find a good website name still available if you want to create a new online presence – so if you fancy having your own personal domain name (and email address – because having email sent to your own name is quite cool!) now might be the time to buy one!
The full Netcraft report is here and it is updated each month.