ENS domains vs HNS, What are the differences of Ethereum Name Service and Handshake?

We are all students in today’s newly developing blockchain internet , web 3, aka dWeb.

How will domain names work in this future internet.

ENS Domains is an early solution for using blockchain tech, specifically Ethreuem, to register domain names via a smart contract on ETH. The main website is ens.domains/

Handshake, HNS, is another solution (FYI and disclosure, we at SkyInclude are biased to Handshake due to our vested interest) that is on its own blockchain and POW (Proof of Work), called Handshake - with a whitepaper and more information on handshake.org

So let’s go through each point of difference. Also a great resource on this was posted in Namebase’s Namer News - https://news.namebase.io/post/2093

Point 1: Naming convention

ENS domains - currently mainly used on .eth TLD of ICANN. So when you register a domain (as of April 2021) you are registering myname.eth

Even though .eth is the country code of Ethiopia, ICANN has allowed .eth to be used for ENS / Ethereum Name Services. Maybe Ethoopia will never want to use their country code? But not sure what happens if they do want to use it?

BUT - after studying ENS domains more, the idea is ENS can use its blockchain technology on any ICANN TLD. The thought process being that ENS is the blockchain solution on top of the current internet. So .xyz for example can also use the ENS domains technology and network of integrations.

HNS domains - are not technically domains, but TLDs (domain extensions). So when you are bidding on and using a Handshake name, you are using what is “to the right of the dot”. And 99.9% of these are not overlapping with the current ICANN TLD (meaning you cannot register .com on Handshake, that is reserved for the legacy internet)

So if you win .skyinclude (which we here own) - we can setup a http://skyinclude/ at the root, or, use http://setup.skyinclude/ as a normal domain you are used to.

But to be clear, currently the Handshake blockchain will not keep track of the SLD ownership, only the TLD ownership and records.

Point 2: Financial Proceeds

ENS - when you buy a name - myname.eth , you are sending money to a private wallet controlled by a group of 7 people.

When you bid on a handshake name - the second highest bid amount is burned from the highest bidder’s bid amount.

Point 3 : Integrations

ENS has been around longer and is ahead currently on integrations. You can access a site if you have Meta Mask on your browser for example.

HNS is catching up with integrations, NextDNs supports Handshake, hdns.io was developed by Namebase to make it super simple, Puma Browser supports it natively, hns.to is an easy way, and there is hopes Brave browser supports it soon.

Point 4: Ownership

ENS - you are paying a yearly fee + gas fees. Sure, you can register for 100+ years, but it will always need to renew yearly once those pre-paid years are up. Also, we are not sure what ENS would do if the ICANN domain was taken from the registrant - would they also lose the blockchain domain?

HNS - you own the TLD for life. Yes, you need to send a renewal mining fee every 2 years for less than 0.01 HNS, and Namebase will do that for you automatically. But the HNS community feels this is true ownership. Just like bitcoin, the name is in your own wallet (or a custodian if you use Namebase), and no government, company, or individual can take that away from you.


There is more of course – but I think for the normal user – the summary is:

ENS, Ethereum Name service, is on ethereum, and also more of an extension of the current legacy internet with blockchain technology added on top. It is currently mainly for .eth but the idea is it can be applied to any ICANN accredited TLD.

HNS, Handshake, is what many in the community call a “soft fork of the internet” (coined by JJ, one of the Handshake creators) – giving the legacy / ICANN internet world their current naming system (there is a couple names being sorted out now) – but going forward, how will collisions work?

Soft Fork of the Internet Quote at Handy Con

At 374 second mark in this youtube:

Panel Discussion with ENS Domains Brantly + Others in Domain Ecosystem

Boyma Sharing About Handshake at MIT Bitcoin Expo 2019

Discussion at ENS Domains about Freedom

Following the direction of ENS and their collaboration w/ ICANN – we see this interesting thread in their forum


One quote here:

Solution? Let’s not look at ICANN as “friends”…As a nice “nonprofit organization”. :rofl: The idea here is that “.eth” should work to be a better alternative for the people than the ICANN domains. ENS.eth.link should be for the people. Not for Godaddy owners and similar companies like Wordpress that to date have NOT create a business that really allows the end users to have a real free and good website. (This is why I admire Origin protocol business model)
juanda, April 16, 2021