It is impossible to be absolutely certain how many there are but UK research company Netcraft have released their latest June 2019 survey of web servers.
They received responses from about 1.3 billion hostnames – a decrease of 300 million (23%) in the last year. But hostnames are just registered website domain names – it doesn’t mean that they also have an actively maintained website on them that you can visit and browse.
How many Active Websites Are There In 2019?
Interestingly, the number of active websites is only 186 million – so there are more than 1.1 billion inactive sites. That suggests that 85% of all the website names in the world are not actually being used to host an active site on that domain name – but why not?
I 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 are either parked or simply redirect web 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 of the inactive sites are likely to be domain names that have been pre-registered in bulk and parked – often by domain registrar companies like Godaddy to sell off later.
The full Netcraft report is here and is updated each month.
Huge Increase In Hostnames
As shown in the report, it’s astonishing that 10 years ago (June 2009) the total number of hostnames was only 238 million – just 18% of the current total. That would explain why it is so difficult to find a good (and short) new website name nowadays – all the best ones are already taken – plus the good ones, the average ones and even most of the poor ones!
If you want to register a new website name today you often have to pay a premium to buy a pre-registered name or come up with something unique (e.g. your business name) or a clever workaround by combining multiple words.
The pre-registering of hostnames is further shown by the fact that the total number of new hostnames added in the whole of 2009 was just 48m – but nowadays that rate of increase can be achieved in a couple of weeks!
Number Of Active Websites Is Fairly Static
From 2009 to 2012 there was a dramatic increase in the number of active websites – from 71 million to 182 million.
However, the total number of active websites has remained much the same ever since 2012 – holding quite stable at around 180 million.
It’s really hard to find a good website hostname that is still available if you want to create a new online presence – and it’s not getting any easier…
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!