domain privacyIf you’ve read through any of our web hosting reviews here on NextAdvisor, you’ve probably seen us recommend paying for domain privacy when you register your domain. Before you can make a decision on whether to spring for this service, it’s important to understand what domain privacy is and why you may – or may not – need it for your website.

What is domain privacy?

When you register a domain name, you are required to enter personal information – including your name, telephone number, email address and mailing address – to satisfy ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) requirements. This information is made visible to the public via the WHOIS database. Most services that offer domain name registration realize having your information available for the world to see is not ideal, so they offer the option of domain privacy, usually for a nominal yearly fee. When you purchase privacy, your information is replaced with the information of a forwarding service.

Why does domain privacy matter?

The most obvious reason for a person or business to use domain privacy is for the protection of sensitive information. Not only can the average person surfing the Internet access your telephone number or email address with a simple database search, but spammers and scammers have access as well. Along with protecting your information from falling into the wrong hands, using a privacy service ensures that you can add contact information to your webpage and direct phone calls, emails and other correspondence to dedicated business lines, rather than potentially leaving your personal accounts vulnerable to nuisance.

One caveat to domain privacy is that if you are primarily a business providing products or services, it may be beneficial to skip on domain privacy and leave your information intact. Why? Sometimes using a forwarding service can be seen as evasive and make you look untrustworthy in the eyes of your customers or other potential business partners. Ultimately, the choice is yours. We would argue in favor of domain privacy and erring on the side of caution if you are operating a personal website or are self-employed.

Want to learn more about web hosting and see which host is perfect for you? Visit our web hosting review page for in-depth reviews of each service and a handy comparison chart.