Definition

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a unique identifier used to locate a resource on the internet. It is also referred to as a web address. URLs consist of multiple parts -- including a protocol and domain name -- that tell a web browser how and where to retrieve a resource.

End users use URLs by typing them directly into the address bar of a browser or by clicking a hyperlink found on a webpage, bookmark list, in an email or from another application.

A URL is the most common type of Uniform Resource Identifier (URI). URIs are strings of characters used to identify a resource over a network. URLs are essential to navigating the internet.

URL structure

The URL contains the name of the protocol needed to access a resource, as well as a resource name. The first part of a URL identifies what protocol to use as the primary access medium. The second part identifies the IP address or domain name -- and possibly subdomain -- where the resource is located.

URL protocols include HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTTPS (HTTP Secure) for web resources, mailto for email addresses, ftp for files on a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server, and telnet for a session to access remote computers. Most URL protocols are followed by a colon and two forward slashes; mailto is followed only by a colon.

Optionally, after the domain, a URL can also specify:

  • a path to a specific page or file within a domain;
  • a network port to use to make the connection;
  • a specific reference point within a file, such as a named anchor in an HTML file; and
  • a query or search parameters used -- commonly found in URLs for search results.

URL examples

Here are a few examples of URLs and what their separate parts look like.

URL illustrated

This example specifies:

  • the resource is to be retrieved using the HTTPS protocol -- which powers the web -- via a web browser;
  • the resource is reached through the domain name system (DNS) name;
  • the domain name -- or resource -- is whatis.techtarget.com; and
  • the path is /glossaries.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet#History indicates:

  • the HTTPS protocol is used; and
  • the URL will retrieve the webpage at the point marked with the named anchor History.

mailto:president@whitehouse.gov initiates a new email addressed to the mailbox president in the domain whitehouse.gov.

Finally, this example -- ftp://www.somecompany.com/whitepapers/widgets.ps -- specifies the use of the FTP protocol to download a file.

HTTP vs. HTTPs

Both HTTP and HTTPS are used to retrieve data from a web server to view content in a browser. The difference between them is that HTTPS uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to encrypt the connection between the end user and the server.

HTTPS is vital to protecting sensitive information -- such as passwords, credit card numbers and identity data -- from unauthorized access.

HTTPS uses TCP/IP port 443 by default, whereas HTTP uses port 80.

This was last updated in November 2018

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Hope that this works out perfectly fine. Thanks again.
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Funny, I've always pronounced it You-are-El! 
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i HAVE TRIED TO GET THE PASSWORD AND IT WILL NOT SHOW UP CORRECT. I NEED HELP.
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@rustyboy11: Password to what? IS this related to the topic URL or are you having other issues?
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What are the main advantages of the URL system for locating internet resources?
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Why wouldn't you use HTTPS for all URLs?
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Amazing article, Thanks for your great sharing.
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What is meant by URL? I want to get registered at arabiawork on linkedin. It's asking to enter URL.
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@shamimakhtar: A URL is another name for a web address. Example: The URL for professional baseball is MLB.COM.
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Do I need a URL on my iPhone cause if I search something a requested URL was not found on this server, what does it mean?
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@traemak: If you enter a URL into a browser search engine and you get that response it most likely means either their site is down or there are network issues. You can verify this by trying to access the site from another device like a computer and see if you get the same results.
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Shalom. Thanks.
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