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WHOIS service FAQ


What is WHOIS?
  • A directory service
  • Protocol and application
  • Client/Server based
  • InterNIC and DDN (Defense Data Network) directories
  • Other WHOIS directories

WHOIS actually refers to three things:

  1. Searchable directories, maintained by the InterNIC and the Defense Data Network's Network Information Center (DDN NIC), which contain information about networks, networking organizations, domains, sites, and the contacts associated with them.
  2. The protocol, or set of rules, that describes the application used to access these directories.
  3. Any directory based on the WHOIS protocol.
The information found in the InterNIC and DDN NIC's WHOIS directories includes: domain names and IP addresses, contact names, company names, postal and electronic mail addresses, phone numbers, etc. WHOIS is used:

  • to find information about networks, domains, and hosts
  • to locate contact information (people) for networks and domains
  • when registering a domain name, to see if the name is already in use
WHOIS works on the client/server principle. A WHOIS client program enables the user's computer to contact a WHOIS server, submit a search query, and receive a response to that query.

WHOIS can be accessed in a number of ways:

  • through a local WHOIS client,
  • an interactive telnet session,
  • e-mail,
  • or a Web-based form (at the InterNIC).
The way a user interacts with a WHOIS database depends on the interface being used.

For example, a telnet session to a WHOIS server may require a knowledge of commands, whereas a graphical WWW interface will usually provide a form to fill in.

The WHOIS database maintained by the InterNIC's Registration Services can be searched by: personal name, organization name, domain name, host name, IP number, e-mail address, and by NIC handle (a unique identifier assigned to items as they are added to the WHOIS database).

The WHOIS database maintained by the Defense Data Network's Network Information Center (DDN NIC), contains only information about people and computers on the military network MILNET.

Other institutions, such as universities and large companies, have also used the WHOIS protocol as the basis for directory services that provide information about people in that particular organization.

In Summary
WHOIS is both a directory and a protocol. WHOIS directories are used to obtain information about networks, networking organizations, domains, sites, and the people associated with them. The WHOIS protocol describes the application used to access these directories.

WHOIS generally provides personal name, organization name, postal address, e-mail address and phone number for people associated with networks; and domain names and IP addresses for networks themselves.

   
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