Check the domain name (whois)

Get information about the domain name – when it was registered, how old it is, when it expires, who is the registrar and who owns it.

Domain Names

Can you reach your friend’s house if you don’t know his address? Even if it’s a popular place, for instance a popular coffee shop, you can’t possibly reach it if you don’t know where it’s located, right? Similarly, a user can’t access the information showcased by a website if he doesn’t know its domain name.

A domain name is to a website what an address is to a house. Just like a combination of letters and numbers can be used to identify the location of a house or an office, a unique combination of characters (including letters and numbers) can be used to identify a website. The simplest way to explain a domain name is that whatever a user types between “www.” and “.com” is the domain name of a website.

Understanding Domain Names

When a user enters a domain name in the web browser, the browser uses a DNS (Domain Name Server) to find the website’s location on the internet. You can think of it being similar to looking through the directory to find an address.

Domain names were invented for the simple reason that traditional IP addresses, which are a series of numbers, can often get too difficult to remember. For instance, when you want to visit a website at the IP address 72.147.256.679, technically, that’s what you should be typing in your web browser. But can you remember that complicated number combination all the time along with a dozen other similar ones without getting confused? That’s why the strings of numbers were replaced by “names” which are much easier to recall.

Typically, every domain name includes a TLD (top level domain) which can be .com, .net, .org, etc, followed by a subdomain. For example, in the domain name Wikipedia.org, .org is the TLD and Wikipedia is the subdomain. There can be further categorizations to subdomains too, for example, en.wikipedia.org gives users access to the English language version of Wikipedia.

Depending on the purpose for which you’re using your website, you can select a suitable TLD to go along with your business’ unique name. Notice the stress on the word ‘unique’ here; this simply implies that no two websites can have the same domain name.

What does buying and renewing a domain name mean?

Registering for a domain name (often referred to as buying a domain name) typically involves paying a nominal fee to declare that a particular combination of TLD and subdomain belongs to you and can’t be used by anyone else. But the interesting thing to note here is that ‘buying’ a domain name doesn’t mean you own it forever. It’s more like ‘renting’ because you have to renew your license to use that domain name every year.

What happens if I forget to renew my domain name and it expires?

If you fail to renew your domain name within its stipulated period, luckily, it isn’t snatched away from you immediately. Instead, you’re given a grace period during which you receive regular email alerts by your domain name registrar. However, if you fail to pay the renewal fee even after the grace period has expired, you lose access to the domain name and it becomes available to be used by other businesses.

Here are a few things to know when it comes to renewing domain names:

  • Registrars usually give around 30 days for the owner to renew their domain name without any fine. You only need to pay the original amount to ensure that your domain name remains with you. Failure to renew during this period pushes the domain to the registrar’s hold status (another 30 days) but regaining access to it requires a redemption fee.
  • Your domain name enters the closeout sale if you’re willing to pay the fee during the registrar hold status. But, if someone bids on your domain during this time, they can claim it only after the 30-day period ends and if you’ve still not renewed.
  • If nobody purchases your domain at the sale and the registrar’s hold status also ends, the domain name is sent back to the registry. The owner can still pay the redemption fee and get it back within 30 days (additional).
  • Even after all this time if the owner fails to retrieve their domain, it is marked for permanent deletion. Once the pending status passes despite the renewal alerts sent by the registrar, the domain is deleted.

How to check the owner, registrar, and expiration date of a domain?

It can be quite frustrating if you finalize a domain name matching your business after much brainstorming but find out that someone else already owns it (yes, it can happen, especially when your business name is similar to other popular businesses). The good news is that even in such a situation, you needn’t give up. Find out if that site is inactive; then if it is, you have a good chance of buying it. With the help of WHOIS you can collect the information about the domain’s owner and its expiration date for a chance to bid.

What is WHOIS?

When you apply for registering a domain name, it’s mandatory to submit your personal contact details like name, address, contact number, and email to the WHOIS database. Technically speaking, WHOIS is a query-response protocol used for querying databases that store information related to domain names and IP addresses on the Internet.

Thus, with the help of WHOIS, you can access the global domain name database to retrieve all information about a particular domain name, for example, who owns is, what is its expiry date, and even how you can contact the owner.

Note: If you can’t obtain the information you’re looking for using WHOIS, you can also use the free tool above.

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