Have you ever wondered who owns a particular domain name? Maybe it’s because the domain you want is taken by someone else and you want to buy it from them. Perhaps you want to know who owns a website you visited, or you want to learn more about the origin of an email address. Regardless of the circumstances, there are multiple ways to find out who owns a domain you’re interested in.
There are a few things you need to know up front:
1. Visit the Website
When you want to know who owns a domain name, your first step should be visiting their domain. You will immediately learn if someone is hosting a website with it or not, and you may even find contact information or links to it on the landing page.
In many instances, you will land on a page with no information at all. You could skip straight to the next step, but it may be worth checking public archives such as The Wayback Machine to see if the domain has ever hosted a website before. It’s a long shot, but a quick search could yield contact information or other breadcrumbs.
2. Check If The Domain Name Is Listed in the WhoIs Directory
Did you know that all domain name registrations are regulated by The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)? They require a registrant, administrator and technical contact for every domain name, which can be the same person or corporation. Each contact must provide a name, mailing address, phone number and email address. This information is stored in the WhoIs directory and made available to the public.
You can look up who owns a domain name in WhoIs at NetworkSolutions.com/WhoIs.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view), domain name owners can choose to keep their information private, including Network Solutions customers who opt for Perfect Privacy. Private registration services like this replace registration contact information with that of the registrar’s or the registrar’s private registration service provider.
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view), you can still use the information listed in WhoIs to contact the owner of the domain name when privacy is enabled. The email address that is listed in the private registration should forward to the owner of the domain name, depending on their email settings.
Checking WhoIs may also help you assess how likely a domain name is to become available. In addition to registrant information, WhoIs reveals the registrar with which it’s registered, the date it was first registered, when it’s set to expire and its status (i.e. active, inactive, etc.). A domain with an inactive status or a newer one near its expiration date has a decent chance of becoming available, making a domain backorder a potentially wise investment, with the payoff being that you’ll acquire the domain when it becomes available.
If these strategies are ineffective, you may want to revisit the first step and see if you can find any records of information being listed with that domain name. Otherwise, you can proceed to the next step.
3. Contact the Domain Registrar
Once you’ve exhausted all other options, you can contact the registrar with which the domain name is registered. As mentioned in the previous step, WhoIs gives you information about where a domain name is registered. If privacy is enabled, you can use information included in the directory listing or look up the registrar’s contact information on their website. You may still not be able to get the information you want if privacy features are enabled, but registrars do carry certain obligations if a domain has been used for illegal activities.
When you want a domain name that’s taken by someone else, you have to consider what a domain owner will expect in return. Use domain aftermarket sites like SnapNames.com, NameJet.com and the Network Solutions Domain Taken Center to compare prices of domain names for sale.
You should also consider your own reputation before you approach someone about purchasing their domain name. If you already have a following, the owner of the domain may learn how valuable the name is to you, turning a thousand-dollar transaction into one worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Consider making a Certified Offer with Network Solutions or employing a domain broker to maintain anonymity when you make an offer to buy a domain name. It could give you an edge in the negotiation process.
Should all else fail, you can always register another domain name. There are several hundred million domain names registered at the time of this article’s publishing, and there are billions of other combinations that are not registered. With enough creativity and research, you can find the alternative that’s perfect for you.
Image Credit: Shutterstock