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What is Whois? - Whois Database - Look Up Domain Owner Contact Information

What is Whois?

Robyn Norgan
Jan 22, 2014 • 4 min read

Maybe you've heard of Whois and maybe you haven't, but if you own a domain or are thinking about owning a domain, you need to know what is it and how it affects you. Whois is a publicly available database of every domain owner's personal contact information. That's right, if you own a domain, your personal contact information is out there on the Internet, available to anyone who does a Whois lookup unless you use a domain privacy service.

Being a part of the Whois database is a requirement from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, also known as ICANN, which is the regulatory body responsible for managing the domain name system. They require a domain owner's name, email address, phone number, and mailing address to be publicly available online. This may be no big deal if you're using your business address, phone, and email for your Whois contact information, as this information is (hopefully) already available online for the public to find. However, you may not want your personal contact information out there for anyone to find.

Unfortunately, spammers and scammers have discovered that the Whois database is a great tool for creating contact lists. Here at Dynadot, we offer a domain privacy service that replaces your personal contact information with ours, leaving us to deal with any spam that would have come your way and now comes ours. For just $2 per year, we weed out the spam and forward you any phone calls, emails, and mail that is actually legitimate.

You may wonder why ICANN demands this information be available, but the Whois database does have its purpose. Think back to when you first came up with that brilliant idea for a domain name, only to find out that it's already registered. Take advantage of that little Whois link listed in our search results on the right. The Whois provides you with a way to contact the owner, who might just be willing to negotiate a sale. Even if the owner is using a domain privacy service, the Whois database will still list some contact information you can use to try to get in touch with the owner of the domain. Unfortunately, whether the owner has privacy or not, you may never hear from them, but hey, it's still worth a try!

Next time you register a domain, be aware of whether or not you want your information listed in the public Whois database. There are some domains that do not allow the use of a domain privacy service including .US, .IM, .CN, .IN, .DE, and more. You can see our full list of domain extensions and whether they support domain privacy on our TLD page.

Not sure what information shows in the Whois database for your domain(s)? Do a Whois lookup now to find out!

Image is of "the original mystery face guessing game" Guess Who? from Hasbro. Click through to find out where you can buy this classic game for some family fun!

Robyn Norgan
This post was written by Robyn Norgan, 'whois' hoping this post helped you understand what Whois, well, is!

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