What better domain name to get some information about than PWAC's own?
.ca is the TLD - top level domain - for Canada. Unlike the registries in the US (.com, .net, .org, etc.) and some other countries, entries in the Canadian registry are fairly well vetted and, except for owner neglect, are generally accurate.
So since we're dealing with a .ca domain - pwac.ca - we'll do our whois search at CIRA - The Canadian Internet Registration Authority.
Go to http://www.cira.ca/
Select English or French. (For the purpose of this demonstration, we're going to use English.)
We're now on this page:
In the box in the upper right-hand corner - with the label 'Whois' above it - I type in:
The site assumes .ca so you don't add that.
Here's what I get from the CIRA whois database:
Registrant Name Periodical Writers Association of Canada Registrar DomainsAtCost Corp. Renewal Date 2007/05/03 Date approved 2000/10/27 Last changed 2005/06/02 Description Registrar Number 45 Registrant Number 45189 Domain Number 45189 DNS1 oak.forest.net 184.108.40.206 DNS2 willow.forest.net 220.127.116.11 DNS3 DNS4 DNS5 DNS6
Administrative Contact Name Victoria Rideout Job Title Executive Director Postal Address Periodical Writers Association of Canada 54 Wolseley Street Suite 203 Toronto ON M5T 1A5 Canada Phone (416) 504-1645 Fax (416) 504-9079 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical Contact Name Gordon Graham Job Title Project Manager Postal Address PWAC 4608 Coolbrook Avenue Montreal QC H3X 2K6 Canada Phone 514-488-1875 Fax 514-488-1875 Email email@example.com
Let's start picking this apart from the top:
You'll see the registrant name is the Periodical Writers Association of Canada.
You'll also see the registrar (DomainsAtCost), the renewal date (that's the date the current registration is due to expire), the original date the registration became valid, and the last time the registration information was modified.
In the next block of information, you'll see the so-called authoritative nameservers which are listed as DNS1 and DNS2. (Some whois results will have these listed as 'Nameserver1' and 'Nameserver2' or a similar variant. The labels change. The purpose doesn't.) Authoritative nameservers hold the entries for each domain name. There are always at least two. Should the first be unavailable, we can switch to the second. So obviously the entries in each nameserver are usually identical.
When the rest of the Internet wants to know where to find pwac.ca, it checks to see where the authoritative nameservers are located, then checks the first of the authoritative nameservers to get the proper IP address for pwac.ca and its various iterations (www.pwac.ca, mail.pwac.ca, blogs.pwac.ca and so on). You'll often find the authoritative nameservers in the same neighborhood - with IP addresses like 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124 (those addresses are literally next door to each other).
In this case, the IP addresses are 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 - so they're on completely different networks.
When I looked up the IP addresses for www.pwac.ca (we'll do an IP lookup lesson in a later session), I discovered that the first address is part of the UUnet Network (which is now owned by Verizon), while the second is part of the Savvis network. Both are located in the United States.
So where is www.pwac.ca hosted? Using another tool that we'll demonstrate in detail later, I found its current IP address: 184.108.40.206 - a third network. This one is controlled by XO.net, a large US ISP based on the west coast. And my trace led me to a server network that's listed as being physically located in Seattle, Washington.
So www.pwac.ca 'lives' in Seattle.
But back to the domain name registration information:
The administrative contact - this is the contact that has the authority to modify information related to the registration, and even to delete it - is listed as Victoria Rideout at firstname.lastname@example.org...
That is a critically important email address. It's the point of contact for registrar-related notifications, billing, and for the approval of any changes to the registration information (such as modifying the name of the organization or updating the contact information). Sad to say, this particular email address appears to be defunct.
The next section is the technical contact - usually the person who is responsible for tech-related issues associated with the web site.
But the technical contact generally doesn't have the authority to make modifications to the rest of the registration information.
Next session: A sample whois IP address search (section 4)
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