Illustration of map with magnifying glass and WHOIS text

What is a WHOIS Record?

21 Jun 2024

Let's cut to the chase with WHOIS and see it as a question of who owns that Domain/website URL?

Many of us, especially those in digital, have stumbled upon a website and paused to wonder who's behind it. It could perhaps be something as simple as a blog that you want to trust, or maybe even a news source you're unsure about. This is where WHOIS comes in! Think of a WHOIS as bit of an online detective that can aid you in seeing the identity of a website's owner.

Still confused? Think of it like your house. It has a deed with the owner's information. In the digital world, websites are like houses, and WHOIS records are like the deed. They contain details like the name of the person or organisation that registered the domain name (the website's URL), their contact information, and when the registration expires.

Why are WHOIS Records Important?

There are a several reasons as to why checking a WHOIS records is a good idea. The top four are:

  • Ownership: WHOIS records play a crucial role in verifying the legal owner of a domain name.

  • Trustworthiness: So you are on a website that is selling some amazing deals on electronics. Checking the WHOIS record can help you see if the owner is a legitimate company or just someone trying to scam you.

  • Accuracy: In a world of mass information, is that new source trustworthy, or is someone acting out to spread false news? A quick WHOIS check can help you verify the information on a website and if it’s legitimate.

  • Identifying The Registrar: While WHOIS records may not display the owner's contact details due to privacy regulations like GDPR, they can still reveal the domain's registrar. The registrar being the company that handles the domain registration process. By contacting the registrar, you can, if there's a legitimate concern, potentially inquire about the ownership or look to make a complaint.


How can I find a WHOIS record?

There are several websites out there that allow you to search WHOIS records for free. One of which is WHOIS.com

Just enter the domain name of the website, or the IP you're enquiring about, and the WHOIS information will be displayed.

Remember: WHOIS records don't always reveal everything. In some cases, privacy protection services can mask the owner's contact information. But even with that limitation, WHOIS is a valuable tool for adding a layer of trust and verification to your web browsing experience.

What is a WHOIS IP Lookup?

Consider the internet like a giant city. Each and every device needs an address to be found. An IP address acts in a similar way to a phone number, uniquely identifying a server (like a building) on the internet. This allows your computer to connect to the specific server it needs, in the same way that if you were dialling a phone number to connect you to a specific person.

Domain names on the other hand are like friendly nicknames for these IP addresses. Simply put because they are easier to remember than a long string of numbers. Combined, IP addresses and domain names form the foundation of the internet, making it easy to navigate and connect to the information you need, all around the world.

When you perform a WHOIS IP lookup, this works similarly to a phone book lookup. You can use them to find out which organisation/company/individual that an IP address is assigned to. This information isn't always as detailed as a domain WHOIS, however, it can be useful in certain situations.

What about if my information doesn’t match the WHOIS results?

It’s vital that you keep your domain contact information accurate and up to date. ICANN, the organisation that oversees domain names, requires registrars to do their part. They typically use the information you provided when you first registered your domain.

How can I update my WHOIS record? 

If you own a domain name and realise the WHOIS information it outdated or inaccurate, it’s a straightforward process to update them. If you own the domain and have access to the domain records, you can easily reach out to their customer support team. Most registrars even offer a user-friendly interface or simple instructions to update your WHOIS information directly through their platform! This public database will then reflect the changes, often within 24-48 hours. Alternatively, if you purchased your domain name through an agency, they will hold the main registrar details. In this case, contact them first for assistance with updating your WHOIS information.

I’m a sole individual. What about domain privacy? 

While WHOIS records offer transparency, some individuals, particularly those registering domains for personal use or as sole traders, might be concerned about privacy. If you are concerned about spammers and scammers, then some domain registrars offer privacy protection. This service hides your real contact information in WHOIS searches, stopping spammers and scammers from getting their hands on it. Many domain registrars offer domain privacy protection as an optional service, sometimes for a fee. Contact your registrar to inquire about their domain privacy options and pricing. If you prove you’re the legal owner, then they can help you. Think of WHOIS information as the digital "deeds" to your domain name. Nominet acts as the central authority for UK domain names, overseeing the entire system. Nominet verifies UK registrant details against a vast database (40 million) combining electoral roll and business records, including live Companies House data.

As an agency that purchases domains on behalf of clients, we receive yearly records from the registrar for confirmation or update. This process helps us check and ensure the information associated with the domain remains accurate.

Still confused by WHOIS? Let us help! 

We can guide you through understanding WHOIS information and maintaining its accuracy. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions – we're always on hand to help!

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