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July 23, 2019

WHOIS Database Search Applications You Probably Don’t Know About

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Thanks to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), anyone can perform a domain search and identify the person or organization who currently owns it. A regular WHOIS lookup will let anyone who queries the public WHOIS database with key details regarding its registration, availability, and more. In fact, this is one of the best ways to acquire domain ownership information today. 

But did you know that there are actually different methods in implementing a WHOIS search? A command-line interface may have been the only way many years ago, yet now we have various tools available that can let us do a WHOIS lookup.

How to Run a WHOIS Lookup

There are at least three ways by which you can carry out a WHOIS search and these are:

  • Web-based queries: ICANN is once again responsible for making WHOIS lookups easier to do by paving the way for WHOIS queries that can be done over standard browsers. To do a search, users can visit one of the many WHOIS Web tools today, enter their desired domain, and then click “Search.”
  • Command line queries: Third-party services can be overridden to let you do a WHOIS search directly from your computer. For those with an OS that supports such an activity, a WHOIS lookup is possible using the Windows command prompt or on Linux, the lookup command.
  • Registrar WHOIS search: Some domains with certain extensions may require users to perform a lookup on the specific server of their domain registrar. For instance, the .com TLD is under VeriSign Global Registry Services while .org is managed by the Public Interest Registry. If you’re looking to retrieve ownership details for either of these TLDs, you’ll have to visit their providers’ websites and carry out searches there.

Out of all these three options, Web-based queries are the most commonly used simply because they are easier to do. You can learn more about WHOIS lookups by reading this article.

Practical Applications of a WHOIS Database Query

Having learned the different ways to perform a WHOIS query, you might be wondering what else you can do with it besides getting domain ownership data. Is it only used to know who owns a website? Let’s take a look at the two cases below.

Making Product or Service Launch Predictions

Back in 2011, Amazon purchased a range of domain names that included the term “ScratchPad,” leading many to speculate that the multinational company plans to release a new tablet in the market. However, it was later disclosed that Amazon had different plans and would instead utilize this for its Marketplace Web Service.

Despite this failed prediction, the ability to carry out a WHOIS database download search proved that anticipating newly registered domains can give insights on upcoming trends or product or service launches. This is especially true when popular brands are involved.

Staying Ahead of the Competition

Pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, also took advantage of WHOIS information when it was faced with extreme pressure from the competition. One of the ways it dealt with its rival was to register the domain name “hims.com,” which effectively prevented Hims, a competitor brand, from using its actual name on its website. This is probably the main reason why the company was forced to use “forhims.com” instead.

Although people may find Pfizer’s approach a little underhanded, it still showed how knowing domain ownership data is crucial especially for companies planning to expand online. Knowing that your competitors can hold domains similar to yours is reason enough to regularly check the WHOIS database. 

There are many reasons why organizations should start using WHOIS records today. In a constantly evolving digital world, a WHOIS database download service can serve various purposes to meet even the most dynamic needs. Obtaining domain details is useful to many professionals and companies regardless of industry.


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Alex Francois is Senior Content Manager at www.ipify.org. He is knowledgeable about technologies that permit tracking IP addresses and other relevant data to ensure better cybersecurity protection and marketing campaigns.

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