In order to understand what localhost is, let’s breakdown the word “localhost” into its parts “local” and “host”.
“Local” indicates something within your vicinity.
“Host” means somebody who is providing a space to stay there (at least in the present context)
Now let’s combine the two parts of the word localhost back into one. The meaning comes out to be some local person or thing who provides you with some space for any particular purpose.
Now let’s talk about localhost in the context of computer science. Lets’ say you want to create a website. You need some space to place the contents of your website. The content may include text, images, videos, or any other type of file required by your website. Your computer provides this space. In short, “localhost” means “your personal computer” or “any other computer present within your vicinity,” which gives you the space for the contents of your website. Using the host analogy, localhost means your computer is hosting your website (or anyone else’s site for that matter. Hosting providers do this regularly using computers called servers). In this example, we are using a website and its contents as an example. Localhost (your computer) can be used to store aka host any software, e.g., a mobile app, a desktop app, a web app, etc.
The people who came up with this named it localhost because it merely refers to any machine being used to host something. That machine serves as a host for any file or content.
What’s the point of using localhost?
When a piece of software or a website is developed, it’s usually first hosted or stored and displayed using the localhost. The reason for doing so is to test the software or website under the development phase and to ensure that it’s working as intended before making it available for everyone. Localhost is used because it gives the developer of the software or website more control over the conditions surrounding the software or website under development and gives them a chance to tweak these conditions and see if the software/website is working correctly or not. (Different types of devices have a different kind of setting and requirements, and most software/websites are developed for usage on multiple types of devices). Therefore, it is the website or software developer’s job to ensure that the software or website functions properly under all kinds of conditions and all sorts of devices.
Another application of localhost is to test out the software or website for its functionality. The developers use the software or website themselves and make changes where required instantly. They can do so much more quickly because the website or software and its source code are present on their computer/localhost.
Who uses localhost?
Mainly, software engineers, programmers, and IT professionals responsible for developing and testing software under different conditions. Think of a local host as an experimental playground for software engineers. Kids use sandboxes to play around with sand and make stuff to learn things. Like this analogy, software developers use localhost as the sandbox in the playground where they create and play around with software to learn, test, and make it better. Moreover, the developers working in the big organizations have a separate development or production server on which they make changes and test the functionality before making it live on the actual hosting server.
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