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sub domain, sub domain example
In the Domain Name System DNS hierarchy, a subdomain is a domain that is a part of a main domain


  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Uses
    • 21 Vanity domain
    • 22 Server cluster
      • 221 Subdomains versus directories
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References


The Domain Name System DNS has a tree structure or hierarchy, with each non-RR resource record node on the tree being a domain name A subdomain is a domain that is part of a larger domain; the only domain that is not also a subdomain is the root domain For example, westexamplecom and eastexamplecom are subdomains of the examplecom domain, which in turn is a subdomain of the com top-level domain TLD A "subdomain" expresses relative dependence, not absolute dependence: for example, wikipediaorg comprises a subdomain of the org domain, and enwikipediaorg comprises a subdomain of the domain wikipediaorg In theory this subdivision can go down to 127 levels deep, and each DNS label can contain up to 63 characters, as long as the whole domain name does not exceed a total length of 255 characters, but in practice most domain registries limit at 253 characters

Subdomains in this context are defined by editing the DNS zone file pertaining to the parent domain However, there is a lively debate over the use of the term “subdomain” when referring to names which map to the Address record A; host and various other types of zone records which may map to any public IP address destination and any type of server Certain groups insist that it is inappropriate to use the term “subdomain” to refer to any mapping other than that provided by zone NS name server records and any server-destination other than that of a domain name server Notwithstanding the terminology debate, many prominent public DNS providers use the term “subdomain” to refer to names which map to A host records which may map to any type of host or destination-server


In the United Kingdom, the third-level domain names are standard and branch off from the second-level domains For example:

  • acuk - academic tertiary education, further education colleges and research establishments and learned societies
  • couk - general use usually commercial
  • govuk - government central and local
  • judiciaryuk - courts to be introduced in the near future
  • ltduk - limited companies
  • meuk - general use usually personal
  • moduk - Ministry of Defence and HM Forces public sites
  • netuk - ISPs and network companies unlike net, use is restricted to these users
  • nhsuk - National Health Service institutions
  • nicuk - network use only Nominet UK
  • orguk - general use usually for non-profit organisations
  • parliamentuk - parliamentary use only for the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament
  • plcuk - public limited companies
  • policeuk - police forces
  • schuk - Local Education Authorities, schools, primary and secondary education, community education

Subdomains are also used by organizations that wish to assign a unique name to a particular department, function, or service related to the organization For example, a university might assign "cs" to the computer science department, such that a number of hosts could be used inside that subdomain, such as mailcsexampleedu or wwwcsexampleedu

Vanity domain

A vanity domain is a subdomain of an ISP's domain that is aliased to an individual user account, or a subdomain that expresses the individuality of the person on whose behalf it is registered

Server cluster

Depending on application, a record inside a domain, or subdomain might refer to a hostname, or a service provided by a number of machines in a cluster Some websites use different subdomains to point to different server clusters For example, wwwexamplecom points to Server Cluster 1 or Datacentre 1, and www2examplecom points to Server Cluster 2 or Datacentre 2 etc

Some domains host their nameservers as ns1examplecom, ns2examplecom, etc, and these usually never show up in search engine results

Subdomains versus directories

Subdomains are different from directories For example, examplecom/yn points to a directory within the examplecom domain, not to a subdomain of examplecom

See also

  • Domain name
  • Hostname
  • Subdirectory
  • Webpage
  • Subpage
  • Vanity domain


  1. ^ a b P Mockapetris November 1987 "Name space specifications and terminology" Domain names - concepts and facilities IETF sec 31 RFC 1034 https://toolsietforg/html/rfc1034#section-31 Retrieved 2008-08-03 
  2. ^ "BBC News - UK court systems set to adopt judiciaryuk domain names" BBC News 23 November 2011 Retrieved 26 February 2014 

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