So you’d like to know who owns a certain domain, or maybe just find out who YOUR domain is registered through. How can this be done in the most simple and efficient way? Normally I’d say use any site that sells domains, but recently I’ve been going back to the source, the one place that I know will deliver my info quickly without trying to sell me something. I do a WHOIS search at ICANN.
What is a WHOIS search?
A WHOIS search (pronounced who is) looks through internet databases that store domain name registration and other important info. These searches can help you learn who registered a domain name (if anyone), where they registered it, when it runs out, and tons of other technical info. More detailed info on the specifics can be found here.
How do I run a WHOIS search?
You’ve probably done them a bunch of times: you go to a site (my choice is ICANN) and type in the exact domain you’d like to know about. Other sites that may help are domains registrars like NameCheap.com. The usual results look something like this:
What is ICANN?
ICANN was developed by the US Government to administer and document all domain names and extensions (history tip: remember, the internet was originally invented under the auspices of the US Department of Defense). As the internet has changed through the years, ICANN has (as of 2016) become an independent body, but they still are the #1 source of info on domain registrations throughout the world. Their WHOIS lookups are free and easy to access at https://whois.icann.org/en.
Why use ICANN?
As mentioned, I LOVE that results in ICANN are not surrounded by ads. Results are presented in a simple, easy to understand layout, which is great when you just want to know one simple thing. Take a look at how nicely they present results: Also, ICANN is involved in the administration of the global internet, so I know the results are probably accurate. (Side note: I’ve gone to some other registrars and searched on domain names and were told they were not registered, but they were, and the other way round. I’ve not experienced that with ICANN).
When would I DO a WHOIS search?
- who you registered your domain name with
- when your domain expires
- when a domain you want expires
- who has a domain name you may want
- if an extension (a .com, for example) is available
- if your personal details are visible (some firms charge for hiding them; make sure they do their job!)
WHOIS searches are very helpful when you want to learn more about your domain registration, or that of another name you might want. ICANN is the best place to look at domain registration information, because their site presents accurate results in a user-friendly design without ads.