Internet Basics: What Do The Different Parts Of A Url Mean?

The URL for a web page tells the browser where to go and what protocol to use to access the page, making accessibility simple.

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) in a short way of referring to the Internet address for a particular web site or document. A simple and descriptive example of a URL would be:

http://www.somesite.com/directory/page.html

The first part of a URL states what protocol is used to access the site. In the example, this would be the http:// part, which indicates the site is using the http (HyperText Transfer Protocol). The protocol tells the web browser how to read the pages.

There are other protocols, for example another Common protocol is ftp (ftp://), which brings files up in a directory and file format, instead of HTML, and yet another is the news: protocol, which is a little different than the other two in that, for one, it doesn't use the slashes.

The second part of a URL is the actual Internet address of the computer where the pages for the site are stored. This is commonly a word or combination of words followed by .com, .net, .org, or a country domain such as .co.uk or .de, and is commonly referred to as a domain name. This second part can also consist of an IP address, and might look something like: 122.123.124.125 or such, and may have a port number immediately after it (for example 122.123.124.125:1234).

Sometimes a site will have a sub domain, and might look something like user.somesite.com or ftp.somesite.com instead of just somesite.com or www.somesite.com (the latter two are often interchangeable).

A URL can consist of just the protocol and the Internet address. If you just type in an Internet address without a protocol and the address will go to the top-level directory and to the default page the web author set up.



The next part of the part of the example URL /directory indicates that it is a directory on the site. Sometimes this will be the end of the URL, and much like if the address ended with the domain, when a user goes to the URL they will go to the default index page, if it exists. Before a directory there is a slash, indicating a new part of the URL.

The next part is the page of the site. This is an actual file and can have one of a number of different extensions. Much like directories, there is a slash before the file name whether or not the domain or a directory precedes it, indicating that this is yet another part of a URL. The most commonly seen extensions are .html and .html, but there is also .php, .asp, .pdf, and others for different files.

A couple of more examples of different kinds of URLs are:

ftp://ftp.somesite.com

news:alt.fan.url

Although both of the above examples are made up, you can see from the URL what kind of site it is. In fact, all you need to be able to tell this is the protocol.

The first URL is of an ftp site. This URL looks much like a URL for a site using the http protocol, except that it is using the ftp protocol, has a sub domain of ftp (which means the main domain is probably accessible by the http protocol). The ftp protocol is used mostly for downloading and uploading files from and to web servers.

The second is a URL for a Usenet newsgroup. It's a bit different, and doesn't need the double slashes after the protocol. It consists of the protocol and the newsgroup name.

As you can see, a URL is made up of several different parts, and it is the combination of these parts that tells your web browser where to go and what protocol to use to bring up the information for what you are accessing.

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