If you are relatively new to the whole niche of computer networking, you might not fully understand what “localhost” is meant to mean. While it is a simple part of networking, it is also one of the most important elements to know if you will be doing any kind of networking tasks yourself.
The average internet user is not necessarily going to need to know what localhost is. Even so, being aware can really make a difference, especially if you might have to fix your own network issues at some point and need to learn every basic detail you can about how your network operates.
What is your Localhost?
In terms of computer networking, localhost is effectively shorthand for “this computer.” It refers to the specific computer that you are currently using, which is the local host (hence the name) of whatever files you are using and connections you are making.
Localhost is the default name to describe the computer address or the loopback address. This means that doing something like pinging localhost for the IP address would present you with a local IP address – specifically, the 127.0.0.1 IP address used when a computer is referring to itself.
In general, localhost is only a relevant term when somebody is using that computer to connect to a network. If there is nothing to host, then there is no localhost because your local device is not hosting or connecting to anything outside of itself.
What is the Localhost Term For?
Localhost is designed to make it easy to understand when something is referring to your own device or for you to quickly refer to your own device in code. For example, a developer who wants to test something relating to pinging their own device can just type “ping localhost” rather than having to type out a specific IP address.
Localhost is a substitute word used as shorthand for the device itself. This is invaluable for testing, but it also provides a useful point of reference and a way for code to always target the executor’s own connection rather than needing to be tailor-made and tweaked for each device.
This makes localhost an important term, even if you are only dipping into the most basic of coding tasks. However, sometimes, you need to access it from more locations than just the device itself, and that means remote access – which you need to do by exposing the localhost to the internet.
How to Expose Your Localhost
There can be a range of reasons to expose your localhost to the internet. Maybe you need to access the localhost in a different part of the building or from another device.
There is a range of tutorials online about how to expose localhost to the internet. Doing so can allow you to access your localhost from a range of locations and devices, whether that is other devices within the same building or remotely across the internet.
Use these tutorials to make the process easier and to guide yourself through the task until you can expose the localhost clearly. Once you learn how to do it, it can be another skill that comes naturally to you.