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Published October 20, 2023

About .io Domains

A comprehensive guide to the .io domain

In the digital realm, your domain name is your identity. Among the myriad of top-level domains (TLDs), the .io domain has emerged as a favored choice, especially among techies and startups. Here’s a comprehensive dive into the .io domain, shedding light on its background, registration process, and its standing in the tech community.

Origins and Administration

The .io domain is the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the British Indian Ocean Territory, managed by Nic.io under the aegis of the Internet Computer Bureau. Tracing back to 1997, Paul Kane laid the foundation of Nic.io, which has since been a linchpin in offering domain name services globally. With data centers sprawling across continents from Amsterdam to Tokyo, Nic.io has become a recognized name in the domain registry landscape.

Registrars and Membership

Nic.io has joined forces with a slew of domain name registrars worldwide, streamlining the process of domain purchase, registration, and management. Its active membership with the Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries facilitates a constructive dialogue on issues pivotal to ccTLD registries.

Recognition and Awards

The accolade of the Gold Internet Industry Award for Best Consumer Customer Support in 1999 is a testimony to Nic.io’s commitment to superior customer service.

Registration Guidelines

The registration of .io domains is open to individuals and organizations alike, with a simple requisite of adhering to a character range of 3 to 63 for the domain labels. The lenient registration policies extend beyond geographical boundaries, inviting global registrations sans the need for a local presence in the British Indian Ocean Territory.


As of June 16, 2023, a .io domain registration will set you back by US$36 per annum, a price point slightly above average, yet justified by the domain’s appeal to the tech industry.

Usage and Popularity

The tech community’s infatuation with .io largely stems from its acronymic resemblance to Input/Output (I/O), a fundamental concept in computer science. This semblance has rendered .io a sought-after domain for tech startups, open-source projects, and online services pivoting on technology. The brevity and memorability of .io also lend itself well to domain hacks, creating catchy domain names like Rub.io.

.io Games

The inception of Agar.io in 2015 spearheaded a genre of multiplayer games synonymous with the .io domain. The burgeoning list includes names like Diep.io and Slither.io, which have become staples in the .io gaming sphere.

Examples of .io websites

  1. Airbnb.io - This is the engineering blog of Airbnb, a platform where the company shares open source projects, internal developments, and insights into its technical stack. It serves as a window into Airbnb’s tech culture, sharing valuable resources and projects with the broader developer community. By utilizing the .io domain, Airbnb reinforces its tech-savvy image and engages with a tech-oriented audience.
  2. Socket.io - This is a JavaScript library for real-time web applications, enabling real-time, bi-directional communication between web clients and servers. It has become a staple in the developer community for building real-time chat applications, gaming platforms, and other interactive web applications. By using the .io domain, Socket.io aligns itself with the tech and developer community, showcasing its focus on innovative and interactive technologies.
  3. Diep.io - This is a multiplayer online game where players control tanks and earn points by shooting shapes and other players. The .io domain reflects its similarity to many in browser .io games, which are known for their simple graphics, addictive gameplay, and real-time pvp combat. The choice of .io aligns Diep.io with other popular .io games, reinforcing its identity in the online gaming community.

Controversies and Legal Tussles

The commercial operation of .io has not been without its share of controversies. The tussle over the sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago, the legal battles with the Chagos Refugees Group UK, and the scrutiny over the alleged monetary benefits to the British government have cast a shadow over the domain’s administration.

Market Trends

The .io domain continues to gain traction, especially among tech startups and the online gaming community. Its crisp, modern vibe coupled with the tech-centric acronym I/O, continues to appeal to a modern, tech-savvy audience. The higher registration cost, compared to other TLDs, hasn’t deterred tech enthusiasts and developers from opting for a .io domain, further cementing its position as a trendy and contemporary domain choice.

3 Interesting Facts about .io Domains

  1. Origin and Administration: The .io domain is a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory. However, it’s operated commercially and has become popular within the tech and startup industry, especially due to the acronym “I/O” representing input/output in computer science.
  2. Popularity among Tech Startups: .io domains have become synonymous with the tech industry, with many startups and tech firms opting for this domain extension. The abbreviation I/O resonates with tech-savvy individuals, making it a popular choice for tech-related websites and projects.
  3. Use in Gaming: The .io domain gained popularity in the gaming community through the success of browser-based games like Agar.io, Slither.io, and others. These games spawned a genre known as “.io games,” which became a trend around 2015.

Total Registrations

The exact number of .io domain registrations as of 2023 is not publicly available. However, it’s known to be a popular domain especially among tech startups and online gaming communities.

Is .io good for SEO?

.io domains do not have a specific SEO advantage over other domain extensions. However, the SEO performance of a website is more influenced by its content, backlinks, user experience, and other SEO best practices rather than its domain extension alone.

How Much Does a .io Domain Cost?

The cost of registering a .io domain can vary between registrars, but it is generally priced higher than many other TLDs. As of 2023, the cost is around $36 per year, although prices may vary depending on the registrar and any additional services purchased.

Will People Know and Trust the .io Domain Extension?

The recognition and trust of the .io domain extension largely depend on the audience. Tech-savvy individuals and those in the startup community are likely to recognize and trust .io domains due to their prevalence in these circles. However, the general public might not have the same level of familiarity as with more common TLDs like .com or .org.

Difference Between .io, .org, .net, .xyz, and .com TLDs

  • .io: Primarily associated with the tech and startup community due to the I/O abbreviation, and has a modern, innovative connotation.
  • .org: Typically used by non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and community groups.
  • .net: Originally intended for network-related organizations but now a general-purpose domain.
  • .xyz: A new and modern domain extension without a specific designation, making it versatile for various uses.
  • .com: The most common and recognized domain extension, typically used by commercial entities.

.io Registry Agreement

The .io domain operates under a registry agreement with ICANN, which can be viewed here. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions governing the operation and administration of the .io TLD.

Closing Thoughts

The .io domain has transcended its geographical roots to become a hallmark of the tech and gaming communities. Its global recognition, coupled with a straightforward registration process, continues to fuel its popularity, making it a viable choice for individuals and enterprises keen on a digital identity resonating with innovation and technology.

Whether you are a budding tech entrepreneur, a gaming aficionado, or someone in between, the .io domain offers a crisp and tech-savvy digital address to make your online presence felt.