What is a WHOIS?
Whois is an identity provider online that offers various products and services like domain registrations, web hosting, servers, email, security, website building and simple Whois lookup. The domain registration service offered by Whois is pretty inexpensive. Whois lookup is another great service which allows people to enter a domain name or a keyword that they would like to register. Then the results show availability of the domain name, pricing with various registrars, and extensions associated with that domain name. When registering brands or domain names, conducting a Whois lookup is always the first step.
What is Whois? – Whois simply means “Who is?” If you need to find out information about a domain name, then you can perform a Whois lookup and get that information. Not only will you get technical information like DNS used, status information et al, you could also obtain contact information for the domain’s registrant. Whois is an integral part of registering domain names and owning a website. The regulation of domains is done by ICANN. Whois record listing just offers a readymade list of important details regarding the domain that interested parties can use for contacting the owner of the domain.
What is the Information You Can Get from Whois? – Normally, you can get a lot of information about a domain by typing it in the provided bar. The following information would be provided:
- Domain Name – When you add a domain name and it is unavailable, the word ‘Taken’ would appear next to it. Since Whois shows you all the available domains with various extensions, many permutations would be seen in the results. Extensions like .com, .co.uk, .net, .org, .eu, .org.uk, .me.uk, .info, .biz, et al would be added to your typed domain name.
- Registrant – This is the name of the person, company, firm, institution or organization who has registered the domain name.
- Registrant Type – This would include information about the registrant. Are they a non-UK company? Are they a UK limited company? If yes, what is their company number? This information would be displayed next to their type.
- Registrant’s Address – The address of the registrant will be revealed to you under this header. This could be used for communication.
- Data Validation – This header shows the date on which the data provided by the registrant, such as their contact details, was validated.
- Registrar – Under this header, the name, tag and website of the registrar is provided.
- Relevant Dates – The relevant dates include registration date of the domain name, its expiry date, and the date on which it was last updated.
- Registration Status – This shows whether the domain’s registration is active, expired or locked.
- Other Information – You could also find the name servers, domain ID, sponsoring registrar (if any), registrant’s phone number and email address, admin’s name, organization, address and other contact details, tech ID, address and other contact details.
How Can You Use Whois?
Whois will show you a list of domain names with extensions that are taken and not available to you. However, you would be given their contact information if you want to contact them and ask them whether they want you to sell their domain name. Otherwise, there might be a bunch of extensions that are free and not yet taken. With these available domain names, Whois will offer you links to many Registrars who are credible and are offering the domain name. Their pricing would be mentioned under them so that you can make an informed decision.
How Accurate is Whois?
The records shown in Whois are obtained from the information that was provided back when the domain was registered. Eventually, addresses change and contact details are updated. ICANN requires registrants to update their details but the procedure with different registrars is different. Sometimes, even after the registrar has updated the information from their end, the changes could take about a day to show up on Whois lookup. The website of the registrar or a representative on the website is used for ensuring that Whois information is accurate.
What about Whois Privacy?
You should know that no one can hide their domain registration because a simple search through Whois would reveal the status of the domain. ICANN’s regulations provide public access of information regarding managers and owners of a domain name through Whois directories, including email, phone number and address. Private or proxy registrants are available which ensure that only the registrar’s information is shown in Whois and not that of the registrant. However, in case the registrar is required by law to release this information, they would have to do so. Also, there is no guarantee of actual anonymity. There are certain privacy caveats with .ca and .us domains.
What are the Benefits of Whois?
The biggest benefit is to support enquiries regarding domains and track malicious or spam behaviorists when needed.