A Whois query comes from a database of domain names that contain the contact information for not only the owner of the domain but also the billing and technical contacts. The database is tied in with the InterNIC Whois database which is the main database that contains complete information on all domain names.
If the domain name is taken you will be provided with information on the registrant of the domain and other associated contacts, domain name host, the date the domain was created, expiration date of the registration, and the name servers for the domain name. However, if the person who owns the domain has paid an additional fee for private registration you may not be able to access this information. Domain name registrants often make their contact information private to prevent mass spam messages and to dissuade data miners.
The Whois database is also used to discover what domain names are not taken so you can choose an appropriate identity for your website. Most domain name providers or registrars will provide locations on their site where you can enter the domain name you are hoping to use to see if it is available. If it is, this will be indicated in your search query as well as suggestions for other names so you can answer your Whois questions.
Each domain name registrar such as GoDaddy and others maintain a Whois database which is associated with the main InterNIC database. This setup ensures that domain names are not duplicated and that there is only one owner per domain name. This provides your online presence with a unique identity and address similar to an address for a brick and mortar business on the street.
The Whois database is also a useful tool which helps you to keep track of your domain expiration date, verify ownership of the domain, and to access name server information for pointing your domain and performing website configurations. This is especially important if your web developer registered the name for you or other third party. If they forget to transfer ownership to you then the domain could expire without your knowledge which gives someone else access to it.
It is important to note that your information in the Whois database is not private unless you pay the extra fee for private registration. If you leave your registration open it contains specific information about where you are located, how to contact you, possibly your IP Address and other information that could be exploited by unscrupulous people. As long as you are aware of this then you can take the necessary measures to protect yourself from people that use the Whois database for unlawful activities. Now you know what a Whois lookup can do and how it works so you can add it to your knowledge bank! Do a Whois lookup on IPAddress.com to test your skills.
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