One thing you should be familiar with if you buy domains is the Whois directory. This is a worldwide listing that has every domain that is registered. There is no way to register a domain and not be listed in Whois. There are, however, options to safeguard your privacy. In this article, I’ll be explaining what Whois is and discussing what it means for you.
The Whois Directory
Whois is a database where anyone can simply look up the owner of any website. There is also additional information, such as when the domain was first registered. This also makes it a useful tool for people are interested in buying domains. Check out Whois.net for more details.
Whois.net is the authority site where you check the whois info for any domain, but my favorite whois site is found on 100Webhosting.com, my buddy’s web hosting website. 100Webhosting’s whois tool is more complete, because it can search on almost all major domain extensions. It also shows you the availability of the domain name in other popular extensions and allows you a quick way to grab it if you are interested! Pretty cool tool, I must admit. Check it out on 100Webhosting.com.
The Whois database is compiled by The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This organization sets rules for domains that are followed by all countries. The database is maintained in order to ensure that website owners can be tracked so that they don’t commit fraud or criminal actions.
It doesn’t matter where you register your domain or what type of domain it is (e.g. .com, .org or any other extension). It will be listed in the Whois database. One aspect of Whois of which you should be aware of is that it’s public information.
You can think of Whois like a phone directory, such as the phone books that everyone had when landlines were the only type of phones. Phone books are still published, but they are less important now and may be published by dozens of different phone companies. Previously, however, one phone company usually had a monopoly in a given area and therefore had all the data on its customers.
Benefits of Whois
In some ways, you can see Whois as an advantage. If you have a business, you may want people to be able to look you up easily. Something you should consider is registering your domain under your business name. Similarly, you may want to use a business address rather than a home address.
Not only does a business name and address protect your privacy, it also looks more professional when people look you up. Some people will look you up simply to verify if you are a legitimate business. They may also want to know where you’re located. For example, if your website claims you are a U.S. company but the Whois directory reveals that your domain was registered in the Cayman Islands, people are going to be suspicious.
Whois and Spam
Unfortunately, Whois also leaves you vulnerable to spammers and scammers. Some people use Whois to harvest email addresses in order to send out spam. Aside from this, some scams involving domain names are sent to owners.
Someone may pretend to be interested in buying your domain, but then try to get you to pay for an expensive appraisal. This is one of the more common domain scams, and it’s something that you will probably experience if you don’t opt for domain privacy with private whois. Of course, it’s also possible that you may get legitimate offers to buy your domain. You have to use common sense, and watch out for signs that the offer is a scam.