WHOIS is how you look up domain name registration information. It contains information about start and end dates for the registration, registrant contact information, name servers, and the registration provider.
DreamHost offers a privacy feature which protects your personal contact information from the public. To use it, edit your domain at https://panel.dreamhost.com/index.cgi?tree=domain.registration.
More information: Domain WHOIS Privacy Service
Breaking Down a WHOIS query
There are two parts to a WHOIS query, the central registry, and the registrar information. This is two separate connections, which is why sometimes the first half shows up quickly.
Lets break down a WHOIS query for dreamhost.com:
The Central Registry Info
Domain Name: DREAMHOST.COM Registrar: NEW DREAM NETWORK, LLC Whois Server: whois.dreamhost.com Referral URL: http://www.dreamhost.com Name Server: NS1.DREAMHOST.COM Name Server: NS2.DREAMHOST.COM Name Server: NS3.DREAMHOST.COM Status: ACTIVE Updated Date: 03-nov-2004 Creation Date: 23-sep-1997 Expiration Date: 22-sep-2013
This information shows the domain name in question, what company provided registration services, a link to their WHOIS server, the domain status, name servers, and create/expire dates. After you have this information, your WHOIS client will generally connect to the registrar's server to look up the contact information. The information in the central registry is updated roughly every 24 hours, so if you see information in the registrars WHOIS section that is different then the central registries, try back in a day.
The Registrar's Info
Domain Name: dreamhost.com
DreamHost Web Hosting internic@DREAMHOST.COM DreamHost Web Hosting PO BOX 5479 Huntington Park, CA 90255 US +1.2139471032
Administrative Contact: Technical Contact: Billing Contact:
Record created on 1997-09-22 21:00:00. Record expires on 2013-09-21 21:00:00.
Domain servers in listed order:
ns1.dreamhost.com ns2.dreamhost.com ns3.dreamhost.com
This shows the current contact information for the domain. This information should be kept up to date at all times, in case somthing goes wrong with your domain having false or obscured data can simply complicate matters. I edited out our Admin/Tech/Billing contact information here for brevities sake. This information is provided by your registrar, and does not actually affect your domains presence on the web. This information is updated when you submit it.