Parts of a URL Explained

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You’ve seen hundreds or thousands of URLs in your life, but they might still seem like an arcane code. Truth is, there’s only a few parts you have to pay attention to. Here’s how to read a URL, or website address:

The first part is usually http:// or https://. This is the protocol, which means “the requested document is a “Hyper Text” document. Hyper Text is the language that websites are written in. If you right-click on a website and click “view page source,” you can see the actual language that it’s written in. It’s more human-readable than you might think. If the url says “https://,” this means that it is a secure server, and verified to securely exchange information. Only enter personal information on sites starting with https://.

The second part is sometimes “www.” WWW stands for “World-Wide Web.” Including a www. before the url used to be standard, but it is unnecessary in the modern web.

The third part is the domain name, like google.com, or whitehouse.gov. This is made of two parts: the .com or .gov is the “top-level domain,” or TLD. There are a limited number of TLDs and access is controlled. For instance, only government websites can have a TLD of .gov. “.com” refers to commercial entities. The other part of the domain name is the subdomain, usually referred to as “the website.” This can be anything, whether google, or watercup, or iboughtthisdomainfortwodollars. These two parts combined refer to a server. “.com” on its own does not refer to a server, and “iboughtthisdomainfortwodollars” is just a nonsense word. But together, they specify a single computer.

Anything after the domain name is preceded by a /, like https://callnerds.com/blog. Anything after the forward-slash is a “subdirectory.” Think of how you have a “Documents” folder, and you can have other folders under that. If domain.com refers to your top-level folder, domain.com/myproject refers to the “myproject” folder within it. These can be nested further and further, which is why you sometimes see URLs like “mywebsite.com/thisfolder/theotherfolder/documents/personal.”

About Nerds On Call: Established in a spare room in Redding, Calif., in March 2004, Nerds On Call offers on-site computer and laptop repair services to consumers and businesses. Nerds On Call provides trouble-shooting for PCs and Macs, home and office networks, printers, iPods® and MP3 players, handheld devices and cell phones, home theaters and game systems, and virtually every other form of digital entertainment. In 2009, 2010, & 2011 the company was named to Inc. magazine’s list of 5000 fastest growing private companies. With 7 locations across California and Oregon, Nerds On Call serves more than 40,000 satisfied customers per year. For more information, visit callnerds.com or call 1-800-919-NERD.