Of web addresses and www

By | September 2, 2019

I had an interesting question the other day – to do with visiting websites.  I think the chap who asked was asking about using a laptop or PC but the same thing applies on a tablet or smartphone.

Here it is:

“I’ve recently noticed that when I enter the   www in an address, the system automatically deletes it in some, but not all, cases. Examples of deletion are  bbc.co.uk bt.com and helpfulbooks.co.uk
Could I suggest that you include in one of your weekly bulletins an item on whether the  www can now safely be ignored”

It’s a good question – on some websites it doesn’t matter whether you type in www.helpfulbooks.co.uk or just helpfulbooks.co.uk – either way you’ll end up on a webpage that shows you just helpfulbooks.co.uk in the address bar at the top of the browser.

On others it doesn’t matter which you type in – you’ll end up at the version with www in front of it.

And on some (not many), you’ll end up at whichever you type in – if you type the www you’ll end up at that version, if you don’t type it, you’ll end up at a version without it.

You see, for some boring techie reasons the web addresses www.helpfulbooks.co.uk and helpfulbooks.co.uk are actually different web addresses – in theory they could take you to different websites, though both would be run by the same organisation.

And back a few years, you’d sometimes find that one version would work and the other wouldn’t.

Since that was pretty rubbish if you happened to type in the one that didn’t work, everyone started making websites that would work whichever version you type in.

The easiest way to do that is to pick one version as the “main” one and set it up so that if someone types in the other version, it sends them to the main version.

So for example, on our website the main version is actually the version without the www at the front – but if you type the web address in with the www, that’s fine, it just redirects your web browser to the version without the www in a fraction of a second.

So the short answer is it really doesn’t matter – you can type in whichever version you like and you don’t need to pay any attention to which version you end up on.  At least you now know it’s not something to worry about!

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