Discover Who Owns a Web Site
Note: This article has been archived and may no longer be updated.
13 February 2003. Need to know who owns a Web site? Look up its domain name registration information in the Whois database maintained by its registrar.
Unfortunately, there is no central database of all domain name registrations. If you do not know the registrar of the domain in question, begin by querying Whois Source or BetterWhois. Whois Source searches domain names registered as .COM, .ORG, .NET, .INFO, .BIZ, or .US. It provides a copy of the Whois registration record, and also informs about the availability or status of a Web site. Do not enter the entire domain name. Rather, enter it as keyword; e.g., virtualchase for virtualchase.com.
BetterWhois also queries multiple Whois databases, but does not cover the range of TLDs (top level domains) provided by Whois Source. It covers .COM, .NET, and .ORG. Enter the entire domain name; e.g., virtualchase.com.
Because BetterWhois and Whois Source do not originate domain registration records, you should verify the information you discover. Both provide the name of the registrar that registered the domain. Locate the registrar's Whois database by connecting to its Web site and looking for a Whois search feature.
Some registrars, like Tucows, operate multiple Web sites. ICANN's (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) List of Accredited Registrars will help you find the registration information site.
To discover ownership of domains outside the U.S., search the registrar(s) for the country of the domain (e.g., Nominet for domains ending in .uk). Use ALLWHOIS to find these registrars. While you can look up domain registration information by querying Allwhois.com, we recommend it only as a last resort. Allwhois.com does not provide a key detail -- the name of the registrar.
This strategy for discovering Web site ownership works for sites like The Virtual Chase that operate from their own domains. It will not help you uncover ownership of Web sites using the domain of their hosting service (e.g., http://www.webcom.com/~pinknoiz).