What is a hostname?

A hostname is a label that is assigned to a device connected to a computer network and that is used to identify the device in various forms of electronic communication such as the World Wide Web, e-mail or Usenet. Hostnames may be simple names consisting of a single word or phrase, or they may have appended the name of a Domain Name System (DNS) domain, separated from the host specific label by a full stop (dot). In the latter form, a hostname is also called a domain name. If the domain name is completely specified including a top-level domain of the Internet, the hostname is said to be a fully qualified domain name (FQDN).

On the Internet, a hostname is a domain name assigned to a host computer. This is usually a combination of the host's local name with its parent domain's name. For example, "en.wikipedia.org" consists of a local hostname ("www") and the domain name "seemyip.com". This kind of hostname is translated into an IP address via the local hosts file, or the Domain Name System (DNS) resolver. It is possible for a single host computer to have several hostnames; but generally the operating system of the host prefers to have one hostname that the host uses for itself.

Any domain name can also be a hostname, as long as the restrictions mentioned below are followed. So, for example, both "www.seemyip.com" and "seemyip.com" are hostnames because they both have IP addresses assigned to them. A hostname may be a domain name, if it is properly organized into the domain name system. A domain name may be a hostname if it has been assigned to an Internet host and associated with the host's IP address.