What is a Host Name? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Kenyada McLeod

Kenyada teaches software application, web design and student development courses at a local community college.

In this lesson, we will define the term host name. You'll learn more about the importance, value and purpose of a host name. We'll also provide examples and give you an opportunity to test your knowledge.

Host Name Definition

If you have ever attended a conference and received a name badge, you are one step closer to understanding the importance, value and purpose of a host name for a computer. A host name is necessary for communication between computers and is essentially a nickname for a computer.

Similar to the numerous ways in which a person can be referenced, a computer can also be referenced in a number of ways. People can be referenced by a legal name or social security number. Computers can be referred to in a similar fashion - an easy to remember name (host name) or a string of numbers. In this lesson, we will define the term host name and provide a few examples, but first, let's learn what a network is.

What is a Network?

Think back to that conference you attended. You probably decided to attend because you share a common set of interests with others that also decided to attend. These individuals are a part of your personal or professional network.

In order to communicate with other participants, you were first required to register or express an interest in joining the network. The conference is the vehicle of communication for individuals interested in learning and sharing information. You were required to submit your personal information prior to being granted access to this network of individuals communicating back and forth.

Now, let's consider the term network in computer terms. A network is loosely defined as two or more computers that communicate with one another. The largest and most popular network in the world is the Internet. The Internet is a vehicle of communication for computers. Through this network of computers, knowledge and ideas are consistently shared.

Understanding the definition of a network is essential because the network is the vehicle by which messages are sent and received. Imagine traveling to a conference only to find that the venue did not exist. Could you possibly communicate with anyone in this situation?

Communicate with a Host

How exactly do you communicate with another person in a conference setting? Well, it would be nice to be able to address them by name, right? For this reason, you are issued a name badge or tag that displays your preferred name. This is your unique identifier.

The way you would most likely see this done in the computer world is through web addresses. A web address (also called a Uniform Resource Locator or URL) is comprised of two major components - host name and domain name. The domain name informs us of the network, while the host name informs us of the individual host on the network.

The host name refers to a specific machine on a network
host and domain name relationship

You enter the conference with your own set of resources, experiences and perspectives that can in fact be shared with the rest of the network. When computers are connected to a network in this way, each machine is called a host and given a unique name.

Reference a Host Name

Host names can also be expressed via an IP address, which is a unique sequence of numbers that represent an individual host. What this means is that a website can be accessed by entering an IP address or host name. For example, you can access Google by entering the text google.com or the IP address into the address bar of the Internet browser. Which is easier to remember?

Enter Google.com or this IP address to access the popular search engine
Screen capture of the address bar populated with the IP address for Google.com

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