What is localhost? A Beginner's guide

While you are studying networking or data management, you can come across a lot of different terms. One such term is 'localhost'. If you want to know what localhost really is, keep reading!!



What localhost really is?

Localhost is generally used in the context of networks. Now, we are always trying to connect to websites or since you are reading this, you connected with this site's domain name instead of its IP address. Of course, it is easier to remember.



Similarly, if you call the IP address 127.0.0.1, you are connecting to the localhost.

"Localhost is nothing but your own computer.'


On many computers, localhost is an alias for the IP address 127.0.0.1. In short, when you try to connect to 127.0.0.1, you connect to your computer. The localhost is used by you on your computer.


Why do you need localhost?

Let's suppose you have a website up and running on the main server or the internet. You have an old framework and designs you want to change. You also have the new framework ready with you.


Now, before going live, you want to test if all the functionalities are working fine. This is where localhost pops up.

You create localhost on your computer and make sure that the new features are working fine. Then, you can go live easily and smoothly.


Summing up, you can transition your website to a newer version seamlessly with the help of localhost.


Are localhost and 127.0.0.1 the same?

Let's see what 127.0.0.1 is.

It is a commonly used loopback address. A loopback address is useful when you want your computer to exchange data with itself during networking.


In a broad sense, a device creates a network with only one endpoint. It starts and ends at the same place i.e your computer.


Localhost and 127.0.01 are synonymously used in practice but are not identical. They are functionally the same but the word localhost is used as a label for an IP address and not the address itself.

In short, using localhost is an alternate way to access 127.0.0.1.


Where is localhost used?

Localhost has many applications. Let's see some of them!!


  • Network and Speed test

Network administrators use loopback to test network connections. It takes more than 100 milliseconds to send a request to the internet while it only takes about 1 millisecond to send a ping to the localhost.


Try it for yourself!!

Go over to the command prompt and type "ping 127.0.0.1".



It will show how many data packets are being received or lost or how everything is performing, etc.

  • Testing program and web applications

A localhost is a type of environment developers create to test various applications. The functions, speed, and glitches, all of these can be figured out with the help of localhost.


You can also call it testing grounds for the successful online deployment of any application.

Here, our operating system becomes a simulator for the program to work on.

  • Blocking sites

This is the domain where loopback is helpful. There are certain websites you do not want to access, ones that may contain viruses.

You need to know what a host file is first before knowing how to block websites.


When you visit a website, you search for a domain name under a specific IP address. Localhost stores a host file for every site you have visited. The host file contains the Domain name and the IP address of the website.

Here, you can block any site by changing the IP address to 127.0.0.1 of the specific host file.

It automatically redirects you to the local host restricting access to the site.


Conclusion


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"There is no place like 127.0.0.1"

Working in the IT technical sector, you will come across this saying.

This is a reference to "there is no place like home" because localhost is often referred to as a "home device".


This was a detailed blog on how the localhost works. In short, localhost provides developers a simulated environment to test their applications and even block malicious sites.



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