www or not www?

What determines if you need a ‘www’ or not in your URL?

I know some sites work either way & some don’t but what is the determining factor?

…your answer is right here.


I never touched him, ref, honest!
Crusoe Takes A Trip

The page mattk linked explains it pretty well. But for those of us too lazy to read the whole thing, just know that the first part of a URL (“www”, or “boards” or whatever) is just the name of the machine on which the webserver is running.

Yes, the article does answer it well. But how do you know if YOUR web site can do without www? I know, type it in & check but I think that sometimes the browser sees it in part if its in cache.

Ok… www is just one of an infinite number of things that can come first in a domain. You can go to www.fathom.org you can also go go stephen.fathom.org and get somewhere entirely different. “fathom.org” is the domain nameanything.fathom.org is called a “subdomain” and can be anything. Commonly subdomains are named for usage… like mail.fathom.org ftp.fathom.org www.fathom.org etc. The standard convention is to name your webserver www.____, your mail server mail._____ etc. As the web has grown, many have dropped this convention and just entered their base domain with the same record as the www. prefix. It is just a dns record… a line in a file that says “blah blah blah” is “blah blah blah”… (like “fathom.org” is “”)

“it’s all real”
“I KNEW IT!!!”
O p a l C a t

Here is an example of a DNS record:

$ORIGIN fathom.org.
3600 IN A
www 3600 IN A
That shows fathom with no prefix and fathom with a www prefix.

The only way to tell other than trying is to look at the DNS records, which aren"T publicly available.

“it’s all real”
“I KNEW IT!!!”
O p a l C a t

The “www” is optional, but is used to indicate a website. The actual domain name is “straightdope.com” (think e-mail).

When you have been assigned a domain, you can specify specific servers within that domain (e.g., “home.aol.com” is a different machine than “www.aol.com”). The “www” was designed to specify the web server at a particular domain, but now is standard on the Internet. Sites often redirect something with the “www” missing to the right computer.

“What we have here is failure to communicate.” – Strother Martin, anticipating the Internet.