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I'm renewing my domains. I've always purchased private registration but I'm having second thoughts. Is it really doing anything?

I'd hate to not renew it and then have hundreds of 'scammer emails & phone calls' or 'crazy people showing up at my house'. But I'd also hate having 'protection' from the boogie man when he doesn't exist.

Buying private registration ends up doubling my renewal cost each year. (9 + 9) x domains

Does anyone have advice or personal experience with having vs not having private registration.

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closed as not constructive by mdpc, Jenny D, Dave M, Bryan, Ward Apr 10 '13 at 3:22

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Is the boogie man the monster that lives under the dance floor? –  womble Dec 30 '09 at 2:34
    
Also, whatever you do, get a better registrar. Paying any money at all for private registration is too much, and if you insist on doing so, it shouldn't be more than $2 or so. I recommend moniker for small-scale registrations. –  Paul McMillan Oct 27 '10 at 16:53
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9 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As I said in http://serverfault.com/questions/82556/domains-and-private-registration-services/82584#82584:

"Domain Privacy" is a risky thing to engage in -- you don't actually own the domain and don't really have any rights to it if it's registered through a privacy service. Although it's spruiking their own Privacy service, Dynadot's QA on domain privacy services spells out the problems with standard privacy services (you just have to ignore the "and so you should buy ours instead!" flourish at the end).

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Very good info. Thank you. –  Byrån Dec 30 '09 at 5:43
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That's a new one on me: to spruik: (transitive, Australian) To promote a thing or idea to another person, in order that they buy the thing, or accept the idea en.wiktionary.org/wiki/spruik –  Dennis Williamson Dec 30 '09 at 5:49
    
I didn't realise "spruik" was an Australianism. Two countries separated by a common language, indeed... –  womble Dec 30 '09 at 5:53
    
C'arn ya wowser, stone the bloody crows! Nah she'll be right mate. You beaute! Fair dinkum! Man actually that sounds pretty stupid now that I've written it down... –  Mark Henderson Dec 31 '09 at 22:26
    
I think the "proxy means you don't own the domain" argument is overhyped and not quite true. The quoted section of the registrar agreement there is taken out of context. If you want to see what real proxying looks like, try to buy a .it. –  Paul McMillan Oct 25 '10 at 19:06
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The vast majority of my domains do not have any sort of "private" registration enabled and I have never, in 12 years, been contacted in a negative way by someone who got my information from the WHOIS database. It used to be a spam source, but I haven't seen that in years. I have the benefit of listing a business address and phone number, but still, no issues. There are a few domains I manage which do use private registration, but unless you have some specific reason to be anonymous (personal safety, etc.), it's not worth the cost in my opinion.

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Thank you. This is the kind of perspective I needed. I wish I could give credit to both of you. –  Byrån Dec 30 '09 at 5:45
    
I certainly have been contacted by less than reputable people. The important thing to consider is, when/if you get a mail saying "I want to buy your domain for $100" don't respond at all. Not even as a joke like "For $10m, sure!" No response means no, any other response means perhaps, and then you can get into trouble. –  Michael Graff Dec 30 '09 at 15:17
    
I too own multiple domains and have never been contacted by spammers. That being said I may have but since I run everything through Gmail I never really see any of them. I have never been contacted via phone, ever. –  jgardner04 Dec 30 '09 at 22:53
    
The rest of us get a lot of random junk in our physical inbox from scammers trying to get us to pay $100 to renew our domains. –  Paul McMillan Oct 25 '10 at 19:07
    
@Paul, if you don't allow your domains to get down to within 90 days or so of expiration that problem will pretty much evaporate. I've noticed a couple of "scam" registrars that are beginning to take longer lead times, but I generally keep mine renewed within four months and haven't seen any issues like this in a long time. –  Justin Scott Oct 27 '10 at 13:52
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Anecdote: my level of spam has not changed significantly up nor down. I do not use any privacy protection on my domain registrations.

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Thank you for your perspective. –  Byrån Dec 30 '09 at 5:46
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Please keep in mind that that contact information is public for a reason---So that somebody can contact you, if need be.

It is really frustrating to try and contact the owner of a domain (your website has malware on it!, You are using my copyrighted material!, Did you know that soandso is ripping your domain/site off!?, and have to go through the proxy-contact process.

Josh

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I don't use private registration for business domains and have only ever been contacted by the registrar itself. Even then it was only a renewal reminder. :) My personal domain is privately registered through DynDNS but I'm only paying $US9.95 a year for that, which I think is pretty trivial. I spend more than that on petrol to go to and from work each day in a very small car.

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Almost 10$ per domain for protective whois? name.com charges only 0.9$ –  mariotanenbaum Apr 9 '13 at 5:44
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It's comfortable to protect privacy. I did horrible mistake back in time and all domains that i registered had my personal info. After that, any search on my name resulted in discovering all my personal info. Since tehre are MANY spam/spoof sites crowling arround, doing whois queries and publishing that data online. name.com thankfully don't charge that much for privacy protection. I think it's about 0.9$ per domain name. It's ok

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anecdote: since i've started using private registration, the amount of spam emails i get has dropped to nearly zero

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I find it very hard to believe that spammers noticed that your existing e-mail address was no longer on a domain registration and decided to stop sending you e-mail. Far more likely is that you used a different e-mail address in your private registrations, and hence it is entirely understandable that an e-mail address that has never been published anywhere gets very little spam. –  womble Dec 30 '09 at 2:18
    
I assumed that was the point - by using private reg, you avoid publishing your e-mail, and thus you get no spam to that address. Though I do wonder whether spammers keep old e-mail addr lists around anymore, or if they are constantly re-scraping the web. –  Michael Kohne Dec 30 '09 at 2:23
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Then the private registration thing is a distraction -- the real statement is "since I've started using an e-mail address that has never been made public, the amount of spam emails I get has dropped to nearly zero.". This is a true statement, but only tangentially related to the issue at hand. –  womble Dec 30 '09 at 2:47
    
@[womble]: your assumption is incorrect - same email address, had it for 10+ years –  Steven A. Lowe Jan 11 '10 at 15:04
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I have several domains registered (some for as long as 7 years). None of them are private. I get very few spam messages. Although some of the spam clearly shows that the sender got my e-mail address via WHOIS - ie offering a webmaster-specific product or service.

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I was contacted by a copyright troll after a site I had hosted used a copyrighted image. Annoyingly the site was no longer active, only visible through the holding URL I had set up during the initial development of the site some years before. Google was crawling that site allowing discovery by the troller, and then they got my contact details from WHOIS. They had no legal recourse but they harrassed me for months. I will never ever put my own details in any WHOIS record ever again. Lessons also learnt about holding URLs and disclaimers on 404 pages...

I can't say what is the value for having a private registration, but there is definitely considerable value in not having your own personal contact information available via WHOIS.

Also, everywhere I have ever worked, and personally, I have received through the mail dodgy "renewal" notices that obtained address details through WHOIS records for domains we own. It is definitely abused for both spam and snail junk mail.

It would be pretty interesting to do some kind of audit using honey-trap addresses for both email and physical addresses in WHOIS.

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