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A domain is a unique Internet address for websites that is readable by humans. When working with domains and domain name system (DNS) management, it is helpful to understand what is a fully qualified domain name (FQDN). This article will help explain the concept of an FQDN and what makes up a domain name.

What is a Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN)?

A fully qualified domain name gives its precise location in the hierarchy of DNS records. It is the complete address for websites and other computers and entities accessing the Internet resolving to the root domain.

Using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate helps secure your domain. An SSL certificate offers a secured connection via HTTPS, providing encryption and authentication for your web addresses.

Let’s deal with the parts of a domain, which will help us better understand what an FQDN is.


The Parts of a Domain

Computers interpret domains from right to left because the same domain name could be registered with multiple top-level domains (TLDs). Therefore, reading right-to-left allows DNS resolution to be accurate and efficient.

Let’s take a closer look at the hierarchical structure of a domain: the protocol, the subdomain, the domain name, and the TLD.

Top-Level Domain


The top-level domain is the suffix at the end of the URL. Reading from right to left, the TLD is the first level of a domain’s hierarchy. A large number of TLDs exist like the ones below:

  • .com
  • .org
  • .gov
  • .edu
  • .net

Domain Name


The second level of a domain’s hierarchy is the domain name. It is coupled with the TLD to form the root domain, which users register with their respective registrar and is the top-most page, or homepage, for your website. The domain name used on a specific TLD represents the unique location of any given website.

When accessing, your browser explicitly asks the primary .com nameserver for the appropriate domain record for exampledomain, meaning the webpage is returned in your browser instead of



Subdomains are the third level of a domain’s hierarchy. They are added to the left of the domain name and separated by a period. The most common subdomain is www, but there are additional examples:


You can create any number of subdomains under the root domain, but the subdomain can also be blank:

  • With a subdomain:
  • Without a subdomain:



The protocol is the beginning portion of the URL (uniform resource locator), represented by either:

  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

Your browser selects the appropriate protocol to use to request the website or resource. 

Partially Qualified Domain Names (PQDN)

You may come across a term called a partially qualified domain name (PQDN). A PQDN is the root domain without the protocol or subdomain portions.

In the case of, the PQDN is as the domain name or the PQDN.

Final Thoughts

An FQDN is a complete domain that includes all the necessary components to resolve to an exact web address on the Internet. In addition to knowing what is an FQDN, we explored the elements of a domain and learned about partially qualified domain names.

Are you looking for a place to host your domain? Liquid Web has managed hosting options for small to medium-sized businesses. Contact us today to see what solution is best for your business needs!

About the Author: Ronald Caldwell

Ron is a Technical Writer with Liquid Web working with the Marketing team. He has 8+ years of experience in Technology. He obtained an Associate of Science in Computer Science from Prairie State College in 2015. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart and lives in Michigan with her and their children.

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