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What is a Host (computing)?

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A host is a computer that connects to a network. In other words, it is a computer that hosts network servers or clients.

Host vs Server

A server is software that provides services on a network. A host is the physical or virtual computer that runs the server. All servers run on a host. Not all hosts are servers.

Host vs Client

A client is software that uses services on a network. As with servers, clients run on a physical or virtual computer known as a host. It is common for a host to run both servers and clients.

Host vs Node

All connected devices on a network are nodes. Hosts are nodes. Networking devices such as switches are nodes but not hosts.

Dedicated Host vs Virtual Host

A dedicated host is an entire physical computer that is used to run servers and/or clients. A virtual host is a shared physical computer that is used to run servers and/or clients. A virtual host uses specialized software to create many virtual computers on one physical computer. This is done to reduce the cost of each host.

Cloud Host

A cloud host is a dedicated or virtual host that runs on cloud infrastructure. This is a class of computing infrastructure that allows resources to be quickly scaled up and down. Cloud hosts may be billed by the hour, minute or second. For example, a web site might use 50 hosts during peak hours and then scale back to 10 hosts when traffic is slow.

Web Host

A web host is any host that runs a web server. In some cases, hosting is sold without root access to the operating system of the host. In this case, the customer may only have access to servers such as a web server or content management system.

Host IP

Each host on a network has at least one IP address. This is used to send and receive messages on networks.

Public IP

A public IP is an IP address that is connected to the internet. A host that is connected to the internet has at least one public IP.

Private IP

Hosts may have private IPs that can be used to communicate between hosts on the same private network.


Each host has a human readable hostname can can be mapped to its IP address.


Localhost is a special hostname that can be used to communicate locally on a host without traversing networks.

Remote Host

A remote host is any host that you connect to over a network. This term is used to distinguish between a host that is communicating with itself using localhost and a host that is communicating with other hosts over a network using a public or private IP.
Overview: Host
A computer that connects to a network.
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