Domain registrar Dotster surged past the 1 million hostname mark this month with a net gain of 312K sites, topping our monthly Hosting Provider Switching Analysis. The huge increase had little to do with customer demand, however, as Dotster became the second registrar to snap up a huge block of .info domains associated with its customers' brands, a practice known as "info-cloning." Dotster registered 343K .info domains for which its customers owned the .com or .net name. The .info domains are apparently still being offered free to registrars to build interest in the top-level domain extension.
Go Daddy added 145K sites, including 246K new sites, as it grabbed headlines and heavy web traffic from its edgy ads during the Super Bowl game on Feb. 6. This month's data includes activity in the first six days following the game. Discount ISP United Online gained 105K sites, including 101K switching in from About.com, which was sold to the New York Times for a reported $410 million on Feb. 17.
MCI, which is the target of a takeover battle between Verizon and Qwest, gained 54K hostnames last month, including 45.3K hostnames switching in from Netfirms. The telecom company now houses nearly 1 million hostnames in its hosting business.
Netcraft's Hosting Provider Switching Analysis identifies movements of sites from one hosting provider to another on a monthly basis. Netcraft compares the hosting location of each site found by the Web Server Survey as indicated by the DNS with the equivalent information for the same site in the previous month. Analyzing this information presents a unique bird’s eye view of the hosting industry, identifying winners who are able to take sites from other hosting companies, and persuade people developing new sites to host those sites with them.