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The Difference Between A Domain Name And A Host Name

author-img By Arina Smith 5 Mins Read 11 September 2023

domain or hosting

If you are a regular Internet user, chances are you have used the combination of hostnames and domain names multiple times. Domain names and hostname put together make up the URLs that you type in a browser in order to visit a website. In this article, we’ll explore what domain names and hostnames are, their functions and the difference between both. 

What Is A Domain Name?

Domain Name

A domain name is your website’s identifier(name). It is also the virtual address of your website that directs Internet users to its location on the web. Computers use IP addresses which are made up of a complex set of numbers that are difficult to remember. To simplify this for humans, domain names were developed and are used in place of IP addresses to identify entities (websites) on the web. 

Domain names can be made up of a combination of letters, numbers or both and are usually used alongside domain name extensions like .net, .com, .org and so on. 

Before a domain name can be used, it needs to be registered. Domain names are like fingerprints they are unique and specific to individual websites – that is, no two websites can have the exact same domain name. However, you may be able to find your desired domain name under another extension like a .net or .io domain. If your URL is used, Internet users will be directed to your website and not someone else’s.

What Is A Hostname? 

Hostnames are unique names for network nodes or a computer in a network. They are specific and are made up of either a string of characters or specific names that identify a host and make it functional for people and the network. Hostnames are used to describe network nodes and physical servers, which house multiple domain names under a single host. 

This is the same thing on the Internet where hostnames are IP addresses in the domain name system, which enable each network user to get a personal description, be it a network node, a user’s computer or a computer on the host web server. 

Hostnames are what makes the management of network services possible and functional for web users. In addition, a hostname is used by system administrators for administration. Most web users access hostnames without knowing it because it is done through the domain name system

How Does A Host Name Work? 

The domain name system is set up to simplify Internet use for the human because the computers involved communicate by exchanging data between IP addresses. In addition, the node of the network interface in the domain system cannot be accessed via an IP address, which is why hostnames are provided to locate the interface. They are typically specified in the local host or host file. 

Network services such as detailed transfer protocol like FTP or mail servers, use domain names to assign network roles, which enables the communication with network users; so, network users computer or interface understand the role they play in the system through hostnames and can be addressed. 

What Is The Relevance Of Host Names In Online Marketing? 

Hostnames are important in online marketing because they make part of a domain name. For instance, a lot of websites on the Internet can be accessed with or without the “www.” prefix because the visitors were directed to the same page or domain. Catchy hostnames can be of benefit from the viewpoint of internal technical infrastructure especially if they are services that communicate with one another like FTP transfers of files or email servers. 

How To Select A Good Hostname 

  • Use real words. 
  • Use names/words that are not frequently used. 
  • It is okay to use someone else’s hostname. 
  • There is no hard and fast rule for selecting hostnames. 

What Not To Do When Selecting Host Names 

  • Do not expect case letters to be preserved. 
  • Do not use terms that are commonly used. 
  • Do not include non-alphanumeric characters in the hostname. 
  • Do not model a name after a project proprietary to the machine. 
  • Digits should come at the beginning of the hostname. 
  • Avoid using your own name. 
  • Avoid using antagonistic or weird names. 
  • Keep it short. 
  • Do not use names that are similar to domain names. 
  • Do not use alternate spelling. 

What Is The Difference Between A Domain Name And A Hostname? 

Name And A Hostname

The major difference between a domain name and a hostname is that – a domain name represents the website a user is assessing and a hostname represents the network that links a user to a specific website and houses the aforementioned website. 

The Internet is made up of thousands of websites, each with a unique domain name gotten from a domain registrar to help internet users identify and visit the site on the web. While the hostname is the network that carries the user to the website. For example, in www.google.com, the “www.” is the hostname and “Google”.com is the domain name. The combination of domain name and hostname is what makes up a URL address (domain name). 

Hostnames can occur at almost any point in the AAAA, DNS, with an address identifying hosts. 

It is possible for multiple hosts to be referenced by a single domain name and multiple hostnames to point to a single internet-facing host depending on how the DNS is setup. 

For example, if you search for “what is a hostname?” On Google.com, your browser could be redirected to a couple of different IP addresses by the DNS and search various different servers that will direct your search results to this article. In this instance, various hosts resolved to the hostname Google.com. In addition, you can go to search.google.com, www.com, and Google.com and end up at the same point. Because each of these hostnames points to the same system.

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Arina Smith

I enjoy writing and I write quality guest posts on topics of my interest and passion. I have been doing this since my college days. My special interests are in health, fitness, food and following the latest trends in these areas. I am an editor at OnlineNewsBuzz.

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