Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
When purchasing a domain you may be offered 'whois protection' or some kind of privacy option. I'll review what that is and when you need it.
I'm part way through purchasing a domain and I've been offered something called "whois protection". What is "whois" and why would I need protection from it?
As the owner of an internet domain (I'll use "somerandomservice.com" as my example here), there are certain requirements that information about you be published.
Now, if you don't mind having your name, address, email address and phone number published publicly, then you can stop reading now. You don't need whois protection or any of the alternatives.
I expect most of you are still reading.
Let me explain and outline an alternative as well.
As I said, domain registrations are public information. Whatever information you provide when you purchase a domain will, by default, be accessible to anyone who cares to look with any of several lookup tools on the web.
And domain registrations are required to have valid mailing, phone and email addresses publicly accessible. If you fake any or all of them you run the risk of losing ownership of the domain.
"Whois" is the name of the internet protocol that's used to look up who owns a particular domain, and retrieve the information associated with it. That information about the domain you own is often simply referred to as "whois information".
There are two ways to keep your whois information private.
This extra-cost option available from most registrars publishes their information as an intermediary.
The way this works is simple: the public information associated with your domain leads to them, not you. They then forward legitimate contact to you without revealing your information.
It's a simple way to keep your privacy.
With a number of domains I own (78 as I write this) the cost of purchasing whois protection would add up to quite a bit of money.
Fortunately, there's a simple alternative. I use:
my real name. I have no problem with this.
a real email address.
a Post Office Box for physical mail.
What's important about all of the contact information is that it all gets to you somehow. That means check your post office box, listen to your voicemail, read your email or you could lose your domain.
This approach gets the right level protection, in my opinion, without burning additional dollars for every domain registration.
There are several good web sites that will look up whois information. Two that I use are domaintools.com and betterwhois.com. In addition, most domain registrars also provide a whois service, at least for the domains that are registered with them (in fact many general purpose whois services will simply locate the registrar and ask them on your behalf).
Give it a whirl - look up the registration information on microsoft.com or google.com or whatever other domain sounds interesting.
Then, when you're done with that, if you own a domain look it up too - and see what people can find out about you.
One way or another, you might decide that you want some kind of whois protection.
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