WHOIS Records no longer private

Hey all,

Has anyone else on these forums had problems where the dreamhost systems have corrupted the WHOIS setting and begun publishing private details? Even though the management panel has set to private mode and requiring support to manually turn it on?

Raised an incident with support about 2 weeks ago and have not heard anything. Even mailed Simon Anderson but nothing.

It’s happened twice to me now and am very concerned it will happen again. If it’s an ongoing bug, I’d appreciate some community feedback.


Yes exactly that has happened to me 3 times in the past 6 months when transferring a domain name registration to Dreamhost. I never even tried contacting DH technical support, you can guess why not.

What happens is that when you transfer the registration in, even though you check all the right boxes to make the registration private, the resulting registration is partially public.

What I mean by “partially public” is that some ‘whois’ websites show your entire private details, including your main Dreamhost login email address, which is terrible, while other ‘whois’ websites correctly show ‘happy dreamhost private registrant’ info.

It is pretty weird.

The workaround is to then use the Dreamhost control panel to change your whois details, again making them private. You then have to wait about 5 days for the new settings to percolate to all the ‘whois’ websites. Eventually the registration becomes private.

The first time this happened to me, I imagined that maybe I had not checked the correct boxes, so the second and third times I attended to the process very carefully and the same thing still happened, so this is certainly an ongoing bug in the DH system.

The third time, I simply gave fictional whois details when I first transferred the registration, observed that they became public, then changed them to the correct details and waited for the fictional details to disappear from the ‘whois’ sites.

P.S. it happened with ‘mainstream’ TLDs i.e. .net and .org


Can you tell me on which WHOIS website you have found that your details were public ?

Thank you.

I couldn’t remember any more details, so in the interest of science I’ve just done the experiment again.

I have transferred a .com domain to DH. In the DH registration panel, the box which says “keep my registration details private” was pre-checked by default and I left it unchanged. I only changed the email address which was pre-selected in the form.

On the plus side, the process went smoothly and took 32 minutes from when I credited my DH account with $11.95 from Paypal, until the confirmation email that the transfer was completed (and would have been quicker if I hadn’t been doing other things at the same time).

Immediately after getting that confirmation email I tried a lookup of the domain on whois.sc (which is a front-end for http://whois.domaintools.com/) and the following thing happened, even stranger than what I mentioned in my previous note:

as the details were filling in (on my not-very-fast internet connection here) I glimpsed the phrases “happy dreamhost” and “private registrant”, but then within a couple of seconds the screen auto-refreshed in front of my eyes and then showed my actual private registration details.

I then tried a few more whois websites and they are all showing my private registration details.

EXCEPT Dreamhost’s very own whois website, at whoisweb.dreamhost.com, which is forlornly saying “Private Registrant” and “A Happy DreamHost Customer”

That auto-refresh at domaintools.com suggests that it is first gets some details from the registrar (Dreamhost), displays these while it is drilling down further, and then displays the raw info that it has drilled down to.

N.B. all this is specific to the case of transferring a domaim name in to DH. Based on my previous experience, if you then go back in to the Dreamhost panel and change the registration details, again selecting “private”, then eventually your registration will be private. Soon I will do this. But right now, the situation is that

whoisweb.dreamhost.com is saying "Private Registrant"
every other whois website that I’ve tried is showing Real Name

Honnestly before I was making my Whois private, but I am not sure it’s a really good idea. The best is to put an other email adress that you use only for this.

Thanks for the replies tomtavoy.

I kind of expect a period in between new registrations to display the private registration especially when you’re switching between hosts.

In my case, I had been running it for a couple of months before it failed. Its as if the back end systems thought it was public and the front end systems ,with the panel, had it set to private.

Hi Makeonlineshop,

I use Google Alerts to detect leaks of my private information. It’s not exactly a science as the alerts don’t actually always work. Would you like a whois site to look up your details or are you wondering about the site that scrapes the whois information and stores it?

Sorry to say, once your WHOIS info is public, it will never be private. There are hundreds of sites that market your site data and as much personal info as they can scrape off the web, including WHOIS and domain registration companies. They don’t care much that you’ve told your hosting company to hide your identity, they’ve already got it. Been there, had it done to me.

As mentioned above, save your money and just use a throw-away email address, a PO Box and a Pseudo name like “administrator.”

That may be OK advice for some people in some circumstances but it would be outrageous for the internet community to accept it as OK advice in general.

ICANN in its guidelines makes explicit provision for privacy-enhanced registration practices and registrars should implement them properly.

It is worth noting, by the way, that it should not be necessary to switch off privacy around the time of a registration transfer.

Many people say things like “I kind of expect a period in between new registrations to display the private registration especially when you’re switching between hosts.”

Several years ago, yes, wise expectation. But to still expect that in 2014 comes perilously close to being forgiving of incompetence.

Dreamhost currently has a serious bug. Unless they have fixed it since this thread began, which does not seem likely.

Well, this explains why my SPAM has increased a ton.

I just did a check a Whois check via Whois.com and found that my registrant details are public. As mentioned, if doing the check via DreamHost Whois check, it shows it as being private.

I’m on a chat right now with support, so we’ll see what happens.

  • Merg
    Okay, apparently the system did not reset my registrations to private after I did my transfer over to DH. Gotta say that I am little disappointed.

  • Merg
    I tried to get some clarification as to why the DH whois servers would show my domains as being private, but all other whois servers were displaying my personal information. The reply was that when the transfer was finalized, the info was not changed back. While it was updated in DH, the public whois record was not updated. The CSR said she was notifying an admin about the issue. I also pointed her to this thread as well.

  • Merg

So why it was not private finally ?