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Choosing Hostnames In Multi-Server Setups

Posted on by Patrick Hawkins
Reading Time: 2 minutes

So your business has grown, and you need to increase your number of servers to two or more. Now is the time to decide on a hostname scheme for multiple servers. Picking a hostname scheme that works for your endeavor pays dividends down the road in terms of keeping your setup organized. While the topic may seem trivial, the wrong hostname scheme can make your day to day work needlessly complex.

The following naming schemes for hostnames each have their strengths and weaknesses. These are just a starting point to help guide you in determining which approach works best for you.

Numbered Hostnames

Traditionally, standalone servers are often named ’’’host.example.com’’’. A common approach to adding servers to a setup is to add numbers after host: host1, host2, host3, etc. While this might seem naive, it does work. A reseller business that does nothing but host small websites on each of its multiple servers would do just fine using this for a hostname scheme.

Traditionally Themed Hostnames

Since the dawn of systems administration, systems administrators have been giving their servers nerdy hostnames. For example, naming servers after characters and locations in Tolkien’s fiction is so common that it is nearly a cliché. Persons, places, and things from books, television, and cartoons are all good candidates for these types of hostnames.
While these can be more memorable than numbered hostnames, they are not nearly as descriptive as our next option…

Functional Hostnames

In this setup, multiple servers are named after a combination of their function and a number. So, for example, if you had four web servers and two database servers, they might be named like this:

  • web01.example.com
  • web02.example.com
  • web03.example.com
  • web04.example.com
  • db01.example.com
  • db02.example.com

This is probably the most scalable naming scheme. If you had started naming your servers after the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, the five of them would not cover these six servers.

Remember, these hostname schemes are just some common patterns that we have encountered in our years of web hosting. They are common because, for the most part, they work. When settling on a hostname scheme, feel free to come up with ones outside of these patterns. At the end of the day, the best hostname scheme is the one that makes your work as easy as possible.


Liquid Web’s Heroic Support is always available to assist customers with this or any other issue. If you need our assistance please contact us:
Toll Free 1.800.580.4985
International 517.322.0434

About the Author: Patrick Hawkins

Patrick Hawkins is a former Test Engineer and Managed WordPress admin with Liquid Web

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