There are a lot of companies that provide domain whois but I've heard of a lot of people who had bad experiences where the domain was bought soon after the whois search and the price was increased dramatically.

Where can I gain access to a domain whois where I don't have to worry about that happening?


Apparently, the official name for this practice is called Domain Front Running and some sites go as far as to create explicit policies stating that they don't do it.

This is where a domain registrar or an intermediary (like a domain lookup site) mines the searches for possibly attractive domains and then either sells the data to a third-party, or goes ahead and registers the name themselves ahead of you. In one case a registrar took advantage of what's known as the "grace period" and registered every single domain users looked up through them and held on to them for 5 days before releasing them back into the pool at no cost to themselves.

Source: domainwarning.com

And apparently, after ICANN was notified of the practice, they wrote it off as a coincidence of random 'domain tasting'.

Source: See for yourself

  • I've never heard that. Any links to horror stories?
    – mmyers
    Commented Jul 8, 2010 at 22:04
  • I think I might have some links to domain kiting horror stories. I'll dig to try to find them. Commented Jul 8, 2010 at 22:13
  • 1
    Here's a link. blog.mindvalleylabs.com/…. Go figure... all I had to google was 'network solutions whois horror story'. Commented Jul 8, 2010 at 22:20
  • I have often wondered if this sort of thing took place.
    – jessegavin
    Commented Jul 12, 2010 at 17:39
  • Godaddy is also a good way to lookup whois data and to see if a domain is registered without fear they'll park it after you search.
    – Anagio
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 1:38

9 Answers 9


I have experienced this myself. When searching for a client's preferred domain name (an unusual one, unlikely to be of interest to anyone else), the domain was available, then 10 minutes later, unavailable! I found an alternative domain, but had to wait the 2 years until the original domain' registration expired before I could claim it for my client.

Instead of using a registrar's search tools, use one of the independent tools out there on the internet. Good examples are http://whois.domaintools.com/ and http://www.whois.net/.

You can also check whois directly using the whois command on Linux (or similar).

  • 2
    +1 Thanks for the answer. Although I haven't had this happen to me personally I've heard about it on multiple places on the net. It's nice to hear an answer from someone who has personally experienced this practice. Personally, I use Verisign whois to prevent this but I can't point to a specific reason why other than the fact that they are the top level .net and .com registrar. Commented Jul 12, 2010 at 10:51
  • +1 I may be a little paranoid, but after getting suspicious of this @ godaddy with a few domains I had wanted I ONLY use the linux whois for domains that may be important to me. Commented Jul 12, 2010 at 17:55
  • OP quotes registrars holding domains for a grace period at no cost.. surely holding a domain for 2 years would cost, though.. if that really happened in your case, why isn't it prohibitively costly for the registrar to do that for every search it records? Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 20:43

I have never had an issue going to the source http://www.whois.net/.

You could also download the Sam Spade software package for free. The software will do a whois for you. Either way I think you are fine.

  • 1
    When I first read "the source ... whois.net" it seemed as if you believe whois.net is some kind of central authority on domain names (e.g. ICANN). I don't believe that's the case, and I suggest you could avoid creating that impression, perhaps by changing to "the site"?
    – Bob Stein
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 14:16

If you have shell access on a hosting account you can always search from the command line there.


Don't go through a registrar, but through the operator of the TLD themselves. They are the ones providing the WHOIS information. While that doesn't make it technically impossible from them to do front running (i.e. if they also act as a registrar for their own TLD), it means that if they did, you couldn't avoid it anyway, since any other service would request the data from them.

See the ICANN registry listing for the operators of generic TLDs.


I'm a little surprised that no one has mentioned the official ICANN whois lookup website.


There are some tools on the web that will look up domain availability for you, and that supposedly do not track these requests like registrars do. Some examples: Domize, DomainTyper, and Domainr.


I use https://instantdomainsearch.com/. This is encrypted search. And doesn't record your search. Although you can try its unencrypted search as well. which is little bit faster but records your search


There is better idea - you buy whois api access from Domaintools. Now suppose you want to see the whois of list of domains, select another 2000 domains randomly and access using the whois api the whois data of these 2000 + your list of domains. So it'd be very difficult for anybody snooping to know which is your interest one out of those 1000's.

If you're domains are precious enough then increase the domain count. Each domain whois access will cost you $.005. So for 10,000 domains it'll be only $50(plus monthly fees).

You can find list of domains here : Where can I download list of all .com domains registered in the world


I have registered 100+ domains with both Namecheap and GoDaddy and I have never faced this types of issue.

I think this happens with only small comapnies.

So if you check it on big companies like NameCheap or GoDaddy, you won't face this problem.

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