WHOIS Lookup Explained

Posted on April 16th, 2017

Watch the following video tutorial if you want to know how to enable Whois privacy for your domain.


What is WHOIS

WHOIS is a protocol that is used to find the details of an internet resource such as a domain name, an IP address block or an autonomous system. It is pronounced as “Who Is”. This protocol is used to store the details in a database and deliver the details the database in a human readable formats. You can find the full documentation on WHOIS at RFC 3912. Before going into further detail, we need to understand a few basic concepts.


Domain Name: A domain name is simply an identification string. It should be registered in the DNS (Domain Name System). Domain names are used in a URL to identify a webpage.

Eg: www.interserver.net


IP Address: The IP address is also an identification string. There are two versions of IP addresses in current use. They are IPv4 and IPv6. The shortage of IPv4 lead to the invention of IPv6. IPv4 consists of digits only and they are separated by full stops. IPv6 contains other characters such as alphabetical letters.

Eg: IPv4:

IPv6: 2001:0db8:0a0b:12f0:0000:0000:0000:0001


Autonomous System: An Autonomous System (AS) is a collection of IP (Internet Protocol) routing prefixes which are connected to each other. These can be controlled by one or more network operators, but they will be on behalf of a single administrative entity. This entity will have a common routing policy to the Internet.


WHOIS lookup

The process of retrieving WHOIS details of a domain, IP block, etc from the database is called a WHOIS lookup. It can be done in multiple ways. There are many online tools to do a WHOIS lookup. The InterServer network tools can be found here: https://www.interserver.net/network-tools.html. A Whois lookup can also be done from the command line interface. The command for Whois lookup from a terminal is provided below.

$ whois interserver.net

These are the methods to perform a Whois lookup. A Whois lookup will provide many details and we are now going to see what details this entails.


The WHOIS Result

The raw data of WHOIS may not be stored in human readable format in the database. The WHOIS lookup tools will retrieve the data and will arrange them in an order, so that we can understand the details easily. There can be personal details like email address, address, etc. in a WHOIS result. Let’s see what are the classification of the WHOIS details for the domain.


WHOIS details – Classification

The WHOIS details are classified as below.

1) The domain information

2) Registrant Contact

3) Administrative Contact

4) Technical Contact


Domain information

This type of information contains the general details about the domain. It will consist of the following fields. The explanation of each field is described next to the field.


Domain: This field will give you the domain name which we are querying the WHOIS details.


Registrar: This is the details of the registrar with whom the domain name is registered.


Registration Date: This is the date when the domain name was first registered. With some WHOIS lookup tools, it will be displayed as “Creation Date”.


Expiration Date: This is the date when the domain will expire. There can be confusion with this field. If the domain is already expired, this field will be shown one year out from the date it actually expired. In this situation, we can check the “Status”. If it is “Hold” or “Redemption”, then it has expired. If the domain is locked, we can find the expiration date at the collection of Record dates in the following text.


Updated Date: This is the date when the WHOIS details last updated.


Status: This is the registrar status of the domain. This will be “OK” if there is no restriction and the domain is free to transfer from one registrar to another. More details of the registrar status’ is specified in https://www.interserver.net/tips/kb/all-about-epp-code/.


Name Servers: This field will provide the details of the nameservers used by the domain in the meantime.


Registrant Contact                       

As the name indicates, this area will provide you with details of the registrant of a domain. By the way who is a registrant? The registrant is the individual or organization that registers a domain. This is simply the identification details of the particular domain name. There will be the following details of the registrant.

1) Name

2) Organization

3) Street

4) City

5) State

6) Postal Code

7) Country

8) Phone

9) Fax

10) Email


Administrative Contact

The administrative contact is the one Whois authorized to interact with domain name registrar to answer questions about the domain name registration and registrant. This authorization will be by the registrant. The details in this classification will be exactly similar to the above.


Technical Contact

This is the individual or organization that will be authorized by the registrant to manage all technical issues for the domain. They will receive all renewal and other administrative notices for the domain.


WHOIS Privacy

You may have noted that the ICANN requires potential personal information to register a domain name. This may cause various issues to the registrants. There is a way to protect these details from viewed by the public. It is called WHOIS privacy and you could have it enabled for your domain at $5 per year.


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