WWW2 or WWW3 before domain name

posted on Jan 07, 2011
Rooturaj Pattnaik
CEO of Nth Dimension. I am a programmer by profession and I lead the Internet Marketing di...

What do www2 and www3 in web addresses signify?

Some times while browsing you might have come across urls (web addresses) like www2.domainname.com or www3.domainname.co.uk/somepage.html.  You would have then wondered what the hell www2 and www3 stand for. We all know that www is the acronym for the “world wide web” that blasted off from Geneva in 1990.

Actually its not a very advanced technology of complex protocols that is behind this www2 thing. It’s a very simple practice of hosting mirror servers to divide the load on one particular server. Say you want to visit www.yahoo.com and you type the same address in your browser’s address bar. Normally yahoo hides the www part by default and the site that loads is your local yahoo home page. Say if I am from India it takes me to in.yahoo.com/?p=us. Now try typing www2.yahoo.com. It will eventually take you to the same page.

Now lets discuss what this server mirror or a duplicate server is all about. Primary objective of the hosting mirrors or duplicate servers is to balance the traffic load on the site. So what we do is tell the primary server to divert some traffic to another server based on some particular condition. These conditions could be geographic location of the visitor for example. So if I am from India and I hit www.domain.com it takes me to www2.domain.com and if I am from USA it takes me to www3.domain.com. The primary server (www) may have one copy of the site too and may serve other visitors who are neither from India nor from USA. All three servers contain the same data.

May be this graphical representation will give you some ideas.

This is called “Load Sharing” and is widely employed in today’s internet architecture. You may now ask “Does this not lead to content duplication?” The answer is NO. The Search engines know these sites to be mirrors and hence there is no duplication issue.

Advantages of this WWW2 and WWW3 mirror servers.

1.This enhances user experience.

2.If one of the servers needs maintenance then the others can handle the extra traffic. So the site does not go down ever.

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