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Learn to Find the URL of a Web Page

FAQ: What’s My URL?

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http://www

A URL

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You’ve learned HTML, built a web page, and even gotten it uploaded to your web server. But there’s just one problem, where is it? What do you tell your friends and family when they ask to see your website? Most intermediate and advanced web designers have forgotten how hard it is to figure out where a web page is going to show up once it’s uploaded, but if you’re having trouble, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone.

Parts of a URL

In order to figure out where your web page is going to show up. The first thing you should understand is how a URL works. There are specific parts that mean different things. And you can use the location on the web hosting provider as a clue to help you determine what the URL will be.

Most URLs have three parts. Here is an example of a URL on an imaginary web hosting service:

http://www.hosting-provider.com/jennkyrnin/samples/page3.html

The three parts of this URL are:

  • The Domain
    http://www.hosting-provider.com
    This is the part of the URL that is controlled by your hosting provider. It is most often going to be a variant of their main site URL. For example, it might be http://350pages.com or http://godaddy.com or http://geocities.com. If you don’t know what this part of your URL is you should contact your hosting provider’s support line.
  • The Directories
    /jennkyrnin/samples/
    This part often includes details unique to you—such as your username. In this example, my username is jennkyrnin. And it will also include any directories you may have put on your site, in this case /samples/. Your hosting provider will tell you if you need to include your username as a part of the URL. Many do require that, but not all. The remaining directories will be where you uploaded your file to on the hosting provider. If you loaded it into the root or top-level folder, then you would leave the directories off the URL.
  • The file name
    page3.html
    This is the actual name of the file that you uploaded from your hard drive. Like the directories, this is determined by you when you saved the file to your hard drive.

Figuring Out the URL of a Page You Just Uploaded

In order to figure out the URL of a page you just uploaded you need to know the following:

  • Your domain—contact your hosting provider
  • Whether your username is part of the URL or not—contact your hosting provider
  • The directory you uploaded it to—look at your hosting file manager
  • The name of the file—check your local hard drive and your hosting file manager

If you’re sure you have all that information correct, and the web page is not appearing in your browser window, there are a few things you should check before re-uploading the page:

  • Watch out for upper and lower case in the file name and directories. Most hosting providers use UNIX or Linux which are case-sensitive. This means that a file that is uploaded as page3.html is not going to be the same as page3.HTML.
  • Check the file extension. Windows tends to save web pages as .htm rather than .html. But if you type file3.html in the URL, the server won’t find it, because the extension is only three letters instead of four.
  • Check that you uploaded it to the right place. The most common reason for a file not showing up is because it got uploaded to the wrong place. Check the directories that are near to the one you wanted to upload to in the file manager, and check the directory right above the one you wanted. You might discover that the file is on your server just not in the right place.
  • Ask your hosting provider if you need a special character to indicate your username. Some web hosts require that you use a tilde (~) before the username. For example: http://www.other-hosting-provider.com/~jennkyrnin/…

Special URLs

There is a special convention for URLs that don’t have a file name listed. For example:

http://webdesign.about.com/

In order to create a URL like that you must name your file index.html. The index.html page is the default page in a directory. You can and should put an index.html page in every directory on your web server.

You upload an index.html file in the same way as any other web page file. But these pages can be accessed by two different URLs. For example, these two URLs would point to the same place:

http://www.hosting-provider.com/jennkyrnin/samples/
http://www.hosting-provider.com/jennkyrnin/samples/index.html

After You’ve Determined the Page’s URL

Once you’ve figured out what the URL is for the page, you should test to make sure that it shows up in a web browser. If it doesn’t, use my test suggestions above, and if you still can’t find the page, you should contact your hosting provider’s support department.

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