Installing Whois on Windows 11

In a previous post, I explained how I installed an IIS web server on my brand new Windows 11 computer.
(https://irthoughts.wordpress.com/2021/12/25/installing-iis-web-server-on-windows-11/). Another thing I installed was Whois.

The term whois refers to both a protocol and network tool for retrieving domain name registration records (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHOIS) and intelligence.

Whois is free so you don’t need to buy third party solutions or install special software to start whoising domain names that might interest you like government & educational domain names or clients & competitors domain names.

You can even whois a Whois server (Good luck with that). Some web hosting companies provide privacy protection services, against Whois queries, for a fee.

What is Whois, and why do you want to install it?

With a Whois tool, you can check the following pieces of data, among other data gems:

  1. Registrant Names and addresses
  2. Administrative Contacts (names, phone numbers, email addresses,…)
  3. Technical Contacts (names, phone numbers, email addresses,…)
  4. Resolving Name Servers
  5. Domain name activation, update, and expiration dates

In some cases one may be able to discover mail servers, geographical data, and additional data. Domain names of discovered servers can also be whoised.

The results might also help one determine if a domain name has been taken or is about to expire. Whois is a nice tool for gathering intelligence from the Web. Indeed. Read, however, all terms of service(s) included in a Whois output.

Because Windows does not come with Whois, you need to download it from the Web and install it in a working space; e.g., in a subfolder under your computer username folder. Thus before looking for Whois on the Web, it is a good idea to create said working space first. This is quite easy to do.

Creating a Working Space

Just go to

File Explorer > C: > Users > username

and create an empty subfolder in the username folder. You need this subfolder to store Whois file(s) there. Name the subfolder any way you want to.

For instance, if your username is johndoe and you named the subfolder Mywhois, the full path of your working space is

File Explorer > C: > Users > johndoe > Mywhois

Downloading Whois from the Web

Go to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/whois and click the Download Whois link. Windows 11 should download a zipped folder to your machine Downloads directory. Next, go to

File Explorer > Downloads > Whois

The latter is the zipped folder. Right-click on it, select “Extract All…”, press Browse… button. You should see Mywhois folder which so far is empty. Click Select Folder button and, in the next window, click Extract button. Mywhois should contain now the following files:

Eula.txt
whois.exe
whois64.exe
whois64a.exe

Running Whois

Open Command Prompt (that famous black window). The term “command prompt” also refers to the right angle bracket (>) that indicates the command line interface can accept commands.

If you have never opened Command Prompt before, just click the Start icon located in the task bar and search for “command”. Once the Command Prompt icon is shown, pin it to the Start menu and to the task bar so from now on Command Prompt is accessible from both locations by clicking the pinned icon.

Important Note: DO NOT press Ctrl + Shift and at the same time click the Command Prompt icon as you will end opening a window for the Windows System, which is not the intended task here.

OK, JohnDoe. Do this: Launch Command Prompt by clicking its icon. The command line should read

C:\Users\johndoe>

Add to the line Mywhois\whois -v domainname.tld, like this:

C:\Users\johndoe>Mywhois\whois -v domainname.tld

where -v is a reserved flag to print output to the screen, domainname is the domain name you want to target, and tld is the top-level domain extension (e.g., gov, edu, com, net…).

Command Prompt commands are not case sensitive, so it’s ok to write mywhois instead of Mywhois in the command line.

Pressing Enter sends output to the Command Prompt screen.

Saving the results

You may copy/paste its current content to an empty text file and save it to your workspace. You can do this by pressing Ctrl + A to select all, Ctrl + C to copy, and Ctrl + V to paste. You may also right-click the top bar of Command Prompt and navigate to Edit. Once there select the options that let you select all, copy, and paste.

Query Examples

As a fictional experiment, johndoe whoised LinkedIn, MIT, Cornell, Harvard, Zoom, Google, and Twitter, so he pressed Enter after each of the following lines:

C:\Users\johndoe>mywhois\whois -v linkedin.com
C:\Users\johndoe>mywhois\whois -v mit.edu
C:\Users\johndoe>mywhois\whois -v cornell.edu
C:\Users\johndoe>mywhois\whois -v harvard.edu
C:\Users\johndoe>mywhois\whois -v zoom.us
C:\Users\johndoe>mywhois\whois -v google.com
C:\Users\johndoe>mywhois\whois -v twitter.com

Enjoy whoising others.

Historical Note

The Sysinternals.com web site was created in 1996 by Mark Russinovich to host his advanced system utilities and technical information. The site eventually became part of microsoft.com site and now redirects to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/, where updated versions are freely available. One of said tools is Whois. At the time of writing, the site features Whois v1.21.

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