A whois (pronounded who is), also known as shared whois project (SWIP) is a common protocol that allows looking up registration information on a domain name or IP address. There are many databases available to perform these kinds of lookups so you can use many websites that will provide you with the same information on the queried domain. The information gathered by these databases is quite complete, but not everything can be made public. Typically, the public information we can see through a whois lookup is:
Registrar: The commercial organization that manages the reservation of internet domain names.
Registrant: The person or entity that registered the domain name. Also referred to as the domain owner.
Contacts: The individual people to reach in regards to the domain name.
Name servers: The servers where the domain points to.
Domain status: Whether the domain is active, locked, in redemption, etc.
Registration date: Date logged where the domain was first registered.
Expiry date: Date when registration of the domain will expire.
Updated date: Last date of modification on the domain name.
Several sites can be used to manage whois information : domaintools.com, who.is, internic.net, cqcounter.com, etc. You can also go directly on a registry’s site to query domains.
Here is an example of information you would see when making a whois lookup :
To update your IP address Whois information, please contact Technical Support.
Missing or cryptic information (Privacy)
Sometimes, a whois privacy might be enabled on a domain and changes a lot of data for cryptic information, or the registrar’s contact information. There is nothing you can do to see the real data behind this security feature, unless you are the domain owner that disables that feature.
When looking at particular Top level domains (TLD), a normal whois might not provide much information, but going directly to the registry’s whois lookup database would provide more. Per example, when you lookup a .CA domain on who.is, and look at the same domain at whois.cira.ca, you would normally get more information on the latter.