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What is Localhost? All you need to know!

Localhost is a hostname used to identify a local machine requesting at a particular time. Read along to find out more!

29 Apr, 22 by Susith Nonis 6 min Read

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Localhost is a common term in website development and web hosting. Localhost is a hostname used to identify a local machine requesting at a particular time. It is also referred to as a local computer address known as a loopback address.  

In simpler terms, localhost is the computer in use. It is also important to note that the word becomes relevant only if the computer is in a network. A computer becomes localhost when a programmer is connected to a network, testing a virtual connection with another computer or testing programs.

For two computers to communicate, data packets have to be sent and received within the framework of IP protocols. The packs consist of the receiver's and sender's IP addresses and shared information.

Computers then respond by evaluating the IP addresses in the packets to identify their packets within a network. Thus, smooth communication between computers with IP addresses in different or the same network is enabled.

However, hardware and software with different IPs on the same network will require the allocation of the 127.0.0.0/8 address block to communicate securely. This address block is referred to as localhost.

A loopback device, a virtual network card, has to be created to control the communication over the address block to allow the computer to access itself over IP. The virtual card supports this communication by ensuring the data packets sent are returned to the computer within the same network.

Typical uses of localhost include:

1. Speed testing

System admins and IT teams in organizations use localhost to run tests on the local network. Localhost doesn't need an internet connection to test the network. All that is required is to send a request to localhost. By monitoring the request, they can tell how the system's hardware and software are working.

The speed of the requests will also help them establish when optimization is required.

2. Blocking harmful websites

To prevent attacks on networks, admins can deflect requests for harmful files. To achieve this, the admin modifies hosts files. Computer hosts files contain lists of domain names and the associated IP addresses. To prevent the visitation of a harmful website, admins can enter a website's domain in the host file and assign it to 127.0.0.1. address block.

Once the domain is fed, the user will be redirected to localhost anytime they visit the harmful website. Already, many pre-made hosts exist online; thus, admins are saved from creating them from scratch.

3. Web application testing

It is imperative to test or preview how the website looks during website creation. Testing is essential as it prevents instances where websites are launched on web browsers when they are not usable and still need some work.

You can make your website files available on your personal computer through localhost. This will allow you to simulate the user experience of your website on your web browser. 

The only difference is that everything will be happening within your computer.

Most website developers use localhost as a testing server for applications and websites before launching them. This provides security for the websites by not exposing them to the public before they are complete, as the website files don't need to be sent to the internet for testing.

Localhost is used by Windows operating system to navigate the local computer web server. Developers use localhost to test applications before launching them. To enable your localhost on your web browser, you must install Internet Information Services (IIS). Once installed, localhost is automatically enabled.

Here are the steps.

1. Open the control panel

Through the Windows start button, open the control panel. This will open with a list of system utilities and options.

2. Open programs

Open the "Programs" link. Select the "Turn Windows Features On or Off." Under this option, a list of programs that have been currently installed will be displayed.

Under the displayed options, check or select the box labeled "Internet Information Services" and click "Ok." The Internet Information Services will then be installed on the computer.

3. Reboot your computer

To complete the installation, a restart is necessary. Therefore, reboot the computer, and once complete, open the web browser and input "http://localhost/" in the navigation field, and a web page will open for the service.

To find your localhost, you can use the localhost IP address 127.0.0.1. Open a web browser and key in http://127.0.0.1. You will notice that a web page will be hosted on the computer by a web server.me computers will also accept "http://localhost."

You should then open the network control panel on your computer to establish the address assigned to your router by the router.

Open the system preference or the network control panel to find the address that has been assigned to you by the router. Note that your IP address will be assigned directly if you are using a mobile or cell phone network.

However, local area networks such as Wi-Fi will assign you an IP that only works on the said network. The address of such networks is often easily identifiable as they start with "192.168" or "10".

WordPress is one of the many website development applications of localhost. Localhost is used in testing websites in the local environment. Developers also use it to configure their access to their site's database.

The benefit of using localhost is that it saves time by speeding up the development process. It allows local development where the website elements can be saved, tested, and viewed without uploading them.

It also allows experimentation during web development without incurring extra costs and allows offline work, which also comes with cost savings. With localhost, you can have a personal backup which minimizes your chances of losing data.

The other benefit is that you will not be blocked by firewalls making your job smooth.

Developing your website locally before launching it for everyone to see is recommended. For this to be possible, you need the intervention of localhost. It comes with tons of benefits like time and cost savings and flexibility in the design process.

Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I veture into the world of Technology I try to share what I know in the simplest way possible. Not a fan of coffee, a sweet addict and a self accredited 'master chef'.