WHOIS isn’t an acronym, though it may look like one. In fact, it is the system that asks the question, who is responsible for a domain name or an IP address?

Anyone can connect to a WHOIS server to send a query, the server will then respond to this query. The most common usage of WHOIS is for finding information about domain names – that’s generally meant by various terms, such as “whois search”, “whois lookup” or “whois query”.

Whois is used to look up records in the Registry database. Whois can provide information about:

  • Domain records
: Find the domain name, registrar name, Whois server and URL, name server name and IP addresses, and the updated date.
  • Name Server Records
: Find the name server name, registrar name, IP addresses, Whois Server name and URL. For example, “name server NS.abc.com” or “name server”
  • Registrar Records
: Find the registrar name, e-mail address, phone number and contact information. For example, “XYZ Registrar, Inc.”

History of WHOIS

WHOIS traces its roots to 1982, when the Internet Engineering Task Force published a protocol for a directory service for ARPANET users. Initially, the directory simply listed the contact information that was requested of anyone transmitting data across the ARPANET.

As the Internet grew, WHOIS began to serve the needs of different stakeholders such as registrants, law enforcement agents, intellectual property and trademark owners, businesses and individual users. But the protocol remained fundamentally based on those original IETF standards. This is the WHOIS protocol that ICANN inherited when it was established in 1998.

Learn more about the History of WHOIS.

You don’t need to have any software installed on your PC, there are many websites that will allow you to perform a WHOIS lookup, for example: who.iswhois.netwhois.comwhois.sc, whoishostingthis.com


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