The Hostway Blog

Your Information is Public on WHOIS

The WHOIS database is a searchable online database containing information relating to domain name registrants, networking organizations and Web site hosts. It lists the details of all registered domain names from the last seven years apart from those relating to the military.

What Information Is Included?

It allows any Internet user to find out the full name, address, phone number and email address of the person who registers a domain name (providing they didn't opt for the private unlisted option upon registration). Users can also find out who hosts a Web site, how long the domain name has been in existence, which company it is registered through and when it expires. It is also possible to do a reverse IP (Internet Protocol) address look up through the WHOIS database.

The Purpose WHOIS

The WHOIS database is most commonly used and most helpful when it comes to tracking down and contacting a Web site. The Web site or blog in question may not have a contact form or any contact details on it but by doing a WHOIS search using the domain name the Web site owner, or at least someone connected to the Web site (the registrant may not necessarily be the owner of the site) can be found and action can be taken.

A business owner may need to track down contact information for a Web site that has been copying their content or stealing their images without authorization so as to send a cease and desist notice. Or an online shopper might need to contact a Web site if they have placed an order but never received it or are having difficulties making contact directly through the site.

A reverse IP address look-up can be useful when you are receiving numerous amounts of spam and other unwanted emails — You can find and contact the sender and request them to stop or if that doesn't work contact their Web site host and tell them about the spam — Which will likely result in the site being shut down.

Another way a person might use the WHOIS database is if they see that a domain they wanted to buy has been registered but there is no Web site attached to it — They may contact the domain owner to ask if it's possible to purchase the domain from them as it is not in use.

WHOIS Database – Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits:

  • To help the law enforcement agencies combat fraud and investigate Internet crime.
  • To quickly and easily find out the official contact information for a Web site.
  • To aid in combating copyright infringements.

Drawbacks:

  • Potential abuse of WHOIS information.
  • Lack of privacy for domain name registrants.
  • Receiving unsolicited emails in regards to your domain name and Web Site.


Emele is a Web site designer and small business owner herself. She first started her small ecommerce Web site selling handmade cards and gifts back in 2004. She then opened her own Web design and search engine optimization business in 2008 to help other small business owners succeed online.