What Is WHOIS?
When you register a domain name, your registrar requires you to provide contact information that includes at least one valid email address. This is published in a public database called WHOIS (pronounced “who is”).
WHOIS is a creation of a nonprofit called ICANN, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. WHOIS exists to allow anyone to look up information about any domain name, often for the purpose of intellectual property claims, regulatory enforcement, or for domain name sale or purchase.
The information you see about each domain can differ, depending on the domain authority in the region of the registration. For example, domain names ending in ".co.uk", ".com.au" and ".ca" typically don’t display a contact email address.
Your public WHOIS information may include:
- The registrar
- Date of registration (creation)
- Date of expiration
- Contact information for the registrant (domain owner)
- Contact information for the administrative contact, technical contact and billing contact
- The name servers of the DNS host (if your domain name currently points to Volusion, the name servers will be ns3.volusion.com and ns4.volusion.com)
Some registrars offer a paid option to make your WHOIS information private. If you can’t find info for a specific site, or don’t want your own info found, this could be the key.
All ICANN-accredited registrars require a registrant's contact information to be up to date at all times. In the event that the contact information for your domain name changes, you'll need to update your WHOIS details through your registrar's website. You should also update this information before initiating a domain transfer.
WHOIS And SSL Installation
WHOIS info is also important for installing your SSL certificates. In order for our billing team to view and verify your email address matches the one we have on file, you need to make sure your WHOIS email address is public. Then we will send the SSL ownership validation email to that address.
If it’s not public, our billing team may ask you to create one of the following domain-specific email addresses in order to send the SSL verification email:
If your WHOIS email is different from your Volusion customer account email address, you may need to log in to your domain registrar's account and edit the Administrative Contact or Technical Contact email address.
For some, WHOIS might conjure up the old-time comedy routine of Abbott and Costello (Who’s on first?). But, having valid contact info accessible to the public is no joke, especially when it comes to your SSL certificate installation. Check out your own WHOIS info and make sure it’s up to date. If ICANN do it, UCANN do it!
For more information about domain names and DNS records, see our article, “Secure A Domain Name For Your Store.”