There are a ton of reasons why you might want to find out who is hosting a website. Maybe you’re starting a business and want to buy the domain, or maybe you want to market a service or product to the website owners.
Or maybe you have a legal issue with the website, such as trademark infringement or unethical behavior like phishing.
Whatever the reason, there are a few different ways to find out where a website is hosted and get in contact with them.
Depending on your reason, certain methods may be more appropriate than others.
So without further ado, let’s get into how to find out who is hosting a website.
Summary: How to find out where a website is hosted?
- There are three main ways to find out where a website is being hosted.
- You can check the contact info on the site, use the WHOIS directory, or contact the domain registrar directly.
Try This First: Visit the Website
Let’s say you want to buy a domain name or reach out to the owner of the domain for marketing purposes.
If you’re curious about who owns a domain name, your first step should naturally be to visit the website attached to it and see what’s up.
Check the Contact Info on the Site
Perhaps the most direct way to contact the owner of a domain is to use the contact form on the website.
If you’re reaching out for marketing purposes – for example, to sell a product or service – then this is potentially the best way to get in contact with the domain owner.
However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a response, and for many people filling out a contact form feels like sending requests into the abyss, where they may never be seen or heard from again.
Check the Email Address or Other Information You Can Google
The email address of the owner of a particular website or domain name may be listed in the “About” or “Contact” sections of the website in question, so that’s a good place to start your search.
If not, you can always try a Google search to see if the information is publicly available.
If it is, you can get in contact with the domain owner directly through their email address to inquire about the domain name or the web host.
Use the Wayback Machine
Let’s say you want to buy a domain name, so you enter it into your search bar and come up with a blank page.
If you land on a blank page, then you can be sure that no one is using that domain at present.
If you’re curious whether the domain has been used before and/or who the current web host is, you can enter it into The Wayback Machine.
This is a tool that functions as a kind of internet archive, and in addition to being very cool, it could turn up valuable information about the history and current host of that particular domain.
It may also turn up the contact information of the domain registrar that owns that particular domain name, which is who you’ll need to contact to buy the domain.
Go Through a Domain Broker
If you’re really serious about buying a domain name and can’t seem to find who owns it or where it’s registered, it’s a good idea to go through a domain broker.
Domain brokers ensure that domain names are bought and sold at prices that reflect their real market value.
This not only makes things easier for you (since it’s their job to do the footwork of figuring out who owns the domain) but also ensures that you won’t get ripped off in the process.
Next: Look up the WHOIS Directory Data
The internet may seem like the Wild West at times, but there are actually rules and regulatory bodies that (mostly) keep everything in order.
One of these is The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates all domain name registrations. To put it simply, all domains have to be registered with ICANN to be legitimate.
ICANN also requires every domain registration to include a registrant, administrator, and technical contact (a mailing address, email address, and phone number).
All of this information is stored in WhoIS, ICANN’s directory search tool.
This means that WhoIS is a great place to look if you want to find out who is hosting a website.
You can also access other information through WhoIS, including its registrar and how likely (or unlikely) it is that an active domain will be up for sale soon.
However, there’s a small setback: even though ICANN requires contact information, web hosts and domain owners can choose to keep this information private.
Even if you can’t see their identity, there will still be an email address listed in the private registration.
This should forward directly to the owner (even if their name isn’t publicly listed), so you can use this as a way to get in touch with them.
Finally: Contact the Web Host and/or Domain Registrar
If you have a legal issue with the website in question – let’s say you think they’ve committed copyright infringement – then you’re going to need to contact the web host and/or the domain registrar directly.
Although many people think that domain hosting and web hosting are the same, they are actually different services that work together to make websites function.
The web host holds all the files that comprise a website, and the domain registrar is where the website’s domain name is registered and held.
To put it simply, if the web host is the house for a website, then the domain registrar is the record of the address of the house.
And if you want to figure out who owns a website, you might need to go through the domain registrar or the web host.
How to Find the Domain Registrar & Their Contact Info
If a domain has been used for illegal activities, the registrar where it’s registered has some responsibility to deal with it. But where can you find the domain registrar?
As I mentioned previously, WhoIS gives a wealth of information about every domain name, including its registrar. You can enter the domain information into WhoIS to find where it’s registered.
Even if the information about the domain owner is set to private, you should still be able to contact the domain registrar through the email address listed in the directory and ask them about the ownership status of the domain.
You can also Google-search the domain registrar listed in WhoIS and find their contact information from their website.
How to Find the Web Host & Their Contact Info
Let’s say you have a legal complaint about a website, or maybe you’re impressed by the speed of a website and want to use the same host for your website.
If either of these is true, you’ll want to get in contact with the web host.
There are a few ways to do this. If you think the website might be a WordPress site (which would be a fairly likely guess.
Considering that a massive 455 million websites online today are powered by WordPress, you can use the WordPress Theme Detector tool.
Just paste the domain name into the search tool and hit enter. This is primarily a tool used to reveal which WordPress theme was used to build a site.
However, if the site is indeed a WordPress site, your search should turn up a wealth of information about the site, including where it’s being hosted.
If this doesn’t work, then you should try the WhoIS directory database (see the previous section), which should also include information about the web host.
Even if this doesn’t turn up the web host’s contact information, you can simply go to the host’s website and find their contact info there.
Bonus: here's how you can tell if a site is using Shopify.
There are several ways to find out where a website is hosted. However, despite your best sleuthing efforts, you still may not be able to find out where a website is being hosted or who owns the domain.
Identifying information is very easy to hide on the internet, which can make it very frustrating if you’re trying to find something.
However, even though there are no guarantees of success, the tips and tricks in this article are the best ways to figure out where a website and/or a domain name is being hosted.
- The Wayback Machine – https://web.archive.org/
- WhoIS Database – https://lookup.icann.org/en
- WordPress Theme Detector – https://www.wpbeginner.com/tools/wordpress-theme-detector/
- Envisage Digital (WordPress statistics) – https://www.envisagedigital.co.uk/wordpress-market-share/