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Domain Names - What Is WHOIS And How Is It Used?

You may have heard the term WHOIS being used among domain name jargon - so what is WHOIS and should you care?

Simply put, a WhoIs search tool is used to look up the current registrant record and other details of a particular domain name. 

A Very Brief History Of WHOIS

According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), WHOIS had its beginnings way back in 1982 when the Internet Engineering Task Force published a protocol for a directory service for users of ARPANET, which was the technical foundation of the Internet. As the Internet evolved, WHOIS did with it and ICANN inherited the protocol when it set up shop back in 1998.

You can learn more about the history of WHOIS here.

What Information Does WHOIS Generate?

It depends on the registry. In the case of Australian domain names, it will show:

  • Registrar name
  • Status of the domain
  • Registrant contact name and email
  • Technical contact name and email
  • Nameserver details (where the domain points to)
  • Registrant name
  • Eligibility type

.. and a few other details. What it won't show you are registrant telephone numbers, addresses or when the domain name was originally registered and expires. Some of this information is omitted in order to comply with Australian privacy legislation.

WHOIS queries are somewhat protected from automated data mining programs and scripts by an Image Verification Check (IVC) for each query.

In the past, creation and expiry dates were also available on a WHOIS search result. This information was removed as unscrupulous parties were gleaning these details and sending unsolicited renewal notices to registrants that they had no previous association with. So, for registrants of .au addresses, they need to actually log into their domain name management interface to see the expiry date of their name.

Using WHOIS To Locate Available Domain Names

You can use a WHOIS domain lookup tool to help check for available domain names. If an Australian name is available, the tool will display the message "Not Found". However, a simpler way to locate an available name is to use a combined domain name search and register tool. That way you can dive on an available name as soon as you find it and register it - before someone else does.

Available Domain Name Search & Register


How to register a name: Enter your choice in the search tool and click 'GO'. If after the check the domain names search results show your choice is available, you will then have the option to proceed to purchase registration; which is a very quick and easy process - start a search and find your ideal website address now.