If you are an active learner of technology, chances are that you have heard the term ‘Local Host’. Whether you are a learner or already a proficient developer, local host is an important part of your journey as a developer. This term is quite popular in the world of technology, however, not many clearly understand the term and its usage in the process of developing a software or an application. In the blog today, we are going to talk about what is local host, its core concept and different area where it is used. Let’s get started!
Most of you would have an idea of IP address, if you don’t, we recommend you to first understand the concept of IP addresses. IP addresses are used to communicate with each other within a network. All resources in a particular network have their own unique address. The TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol) data packets are used to reach the correct destination. The protocol pair TCP and the IP are main features of the internet. It is also used outside of the internet within local networks.
Public IP addresses and their allocation is regulated by an international organization by the name, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, often abbreviated as ICANN. The Domain Name System (DNS) and their allocation is also maintained by ICANN. However, certain address ranges are reserved for special purposes. The range from 127.0.0.0 to 127.255.255.255. is reserved, though there is no evident reason why this particular range was chosen.
Now that we have had a brief idea of IP addresses. Let’s look at another interesting concept. The IP addresses, that we just talked about, are divided into five different classes. The first class is the Class A which starts with 0.0.0.0 and ends with 127.255.255.255. There are other classes too. Class B has a range of addresses from 188.8.131.52 and goes up to 184.108.40.206. The next in line is the Class C where the addresses range starts from 192.0.0.0 and goes up to 220.127.116.11. Multicast addressing is represented in Class D where the range of IP addresses start from 18.104.22.168 and ends with 22.214.171.124. The last class is classful addressing is Class E which is reserved for research purposes and future use and the IP address range in Class E is from 240.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
Now that we have had a brief idea of IP addresses, let’s proceed to comprehending local host.
Let’s start with how to connect with a localhost. When any IP address is called on your computer, there is basically an effort to connect to another computer on the internet. This happens when there is any IP address, however, when the IP address called is 127.0.0.1, then the communication is with the localhost.
Localhost is basically always on the user’s own computer and hence when you call the localhost, your computer is actually talking to itself. Your computer is not always able to directly identify the local host. In most cases, the localhost has a separate IP address like 192.168.0.1. within your personal network which is different to the one you use on the internet. It is generally dynamically assigned by the ISP which is the Internet Service Provider.
Local host is a term that is generally used in the context of computer networks. Localhost can be visualised as a server that is used on the user’s own computer. Localhost is a name for the virtual server but it is also its domain name. For example, there are some top level domain reserved for documentation and testing purposes, some of these domain names are .example, .test, or .invalid, ., .localhost etc.
When a user is accessing the domain, a loopback is triggered, therefore, if the user accesses “http://localhost” in the browser, the request is not forwarded to the internet through the router, instead it remains in the user’s own system. The IP address of the local host is 127.0.0.1 which refers back to the user’s own server.
If an IP address or corresponding domain name is entered in the browser, then the router forwards the client’s request to the internet which is then connected to the requested server. For example, if you enter 126.96.36.199, the Google homepage appears, however, if you write 127.0.0.1., the request to this address is not forwarded to the internet because of the first block (127). TCP/IP recognises, with the help of the first block, that you don’t want to access the internet, but instead you are calling yourself. This situation then triggers a loopback.
Now that we have understood the basic concept of local host, it’s time to proceed to the next concept of loopback. Loopback device is created so that the back link to your own computer works. It is basically a virtual interface created through the operating system. The interface can also be displayed using the ifconfig command in Unix systems or using the ipconfig command for Windows.
Uses of Local Host
We hope that the concept of local host is clear in your mind. In this segment, we would discuss the different uses of local host for developers.
Generally, local host is used by developers to test their web applications, programs or software. On the other hand, the loopback is used by the network administrators to test network connections. Local host is also used for hosts file where you can use the loopback to block malicious websites.
Another important use of local host is testing. Local host is mainly used by web servers for the programming applications that need to communicate over the internet. During the development stage, it is important for developers to find out whether the application actually works as intended. This is used to test whether the product run as expected once it runs on the internet.
Other functions of a Localhost other functions are only possible if the required files can be found on the internet. It is used for accessing, for example a HTML document on a server and accessing it. It is very useful because there is no sense in releasing a product without testing. Loopback can stimulate a connection while also avoiding the network errors as the connection just stays completely inside the customer’s own system. There are specific softwares, such as XAMPP, used to set up your own test server on your PC to address it through the localhost. Localhost is also useful to block the hosts files and can also use them to block certain websites.
This blog was an earnest effort to explain the meaning of local host, its importance and uses in process of development. We hope the concept is clear and you have a better understanding of this basic concept of computer network called local host. However, if you have a doubt hovering around, please feel free to connect with us as we would be more than happy to help you. Let’s build a community for passionate technocrats like you!
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