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How to Find Out Who is Hosting a Website

"Where is This Site Hosted?"

One issue we often run into is that we get new clients who become responsible for their websites but they don't know where the website is hosted. There are a number of ways to find the web host of a site. This article will explain a number of ways to do it and hopefully one will work for you.

Who is Paying the Bills?

Follow the money! Check with your Accounts Payable Department and see if they know who they are paying each month or each year for website hosting. That's a good place to start. Most website hosting isn't free (at least good website hosting isn't), so if the website is running, someone must be paying them.

Some times your website hosting is included with your Internet service, so your host could be your phone company or Internet Service Provider.

Check Online

There are a number of online tools that you can use to check where a website is hosted or other information.

  • Who is Hosting This? (whoishostingthis.com) - Gives you the host, IP address, name servers and other information.
  • What's the Site Running? (netcraft.com) - Tells you lots of information about a website including the IP address, netblock owner and server technology.
  • DNS Stuff - Lots of information about a domain name / website.
  • Whois (webstix.com) - Tells you who a domain name is registered to, the domain name registrar and name servers.
  • Whois (whois.net) - Domain name registrar, name servers, physical address and more.
  • Reverse IP Address Lookup - Put in a domain and get the IP address and more about that server.

When you do a "whois" on a website's domain name, you should get a number of contacts. You'll get the Administrative Contact and Technical Contact. See if you know those people and if those contact names make sense. You should be able to email them or call them with the phone number listed.

Use Some Linux Tools

My first thought is to use some Linux tools. You can do a "dig" on the domain name to find out the IP address. You then do a reverse dig and you usually get the netblock owner. You can also do a "host" command or nslookup command.

Some Clues to Help You

Name servers - Often, the website is hosted at the same place the DNS (name servers) are at.

Reverse dig - This is the tool that I think is the best. I could not find an online reverse dig tool, so you have to find your local geek and have them do it for you - run these Linux commands. If you have a Mac, open your Terminal app and run these commands. Here's an example of what I do to find who is hosting a website:

First, get the IP address of the domain by doing a dig:

TonyMacbookPro:~ tony$ dig webstix.com

; <<>> DiG 9.8.3-P1 <<>> webstix.com
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 1496
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;webstix.com. IN A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
webstix.com. 11870 IN A 67.192.29.164

;; Query time: 52 msec
;; SERVER: 8.8.4.4#53(8.8.4.4)
;; WHEN: Fri Jan 25 13:05:26 2013
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 45

The IP address in this case is 67.192.29.164.

You then do a reverse dig on that IP address:

TonyMacbookPro:~ tony$ dig -x 67.192.29.164

; <<>> DiG 9.8.3-P1 <<>> -x 67.192.29.164
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NXDOMAIN, id: 12857
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 1, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;164.29.192.67.in-addr.arpa. IN PTR

;; AUTHORITY SECTION:
29.192.67.in-addr.arpa. 300 IN SOA ns.rackspace.com.29.192.67.in-addr.arpa. hostmaster.rackspace.com.29.192.67.in-addr.arpa. 1271898176 3600 300 1814400 300

;; Query time: 102 msec
;; SERVER: 8.8.4.4#53(8.8.4.4)
;; WHEN: Fri Jan 25 13:06:39 2013
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 108

The host in this case is Rackspace.

Once You Know Who the Host Is

Once you know who is hosting the website, call that hosting company. It might take some work to get access to that account. That hosting company is going to have you prove who you are and where you work. Just follow what they say and it should not be a problem. Just be honest, tell them who you are and what you need.

If they don't make you prove who you are and just give you access to the account, then you should insist that they tighten up their security because your competitor could easily call and they could give them the same access they just gave you.

More Resources:

These web pages are only somewhat related to finding out about a website host or domain name but you might find them valuable:

SEO / PPC
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Website Marketing
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