You may have come across the terms sub-directory and sub-domain and thought that they are the same. Technically, the sub-domains and sub-directories can serve the same purposes, however, they are different things that get mixed with one another quite often by people who are new to the hosting field.
Both can be useful, depending on the situation, and can use them to shape the structure of your URLs however you need. In this article, we will try to explain the difference between them and discuss the benefits of each method of structuring your URLs.
Sub-domains are an “extension” of the actual domain name, however, instead of going after the domain name itself as a typical TLD, they go before it. For example - hostarmada.com is a full-grown domain name while my.hostarmada.com is a sub-domain where our client area is hosted. The “my” before the domain name signifies that this is, in fact, the sub-domain of “hostarmada.com”. These sub-domains are typically created from your hosting control panel, such as the cPanel. With HostArmada, you can create an unlimited amount of sub-domain and use the Zone Manager feature to point them to whichever server you need!
A considerable benefit of this type of structure is that you can host the application under it on a different server with a straightforward change to the sub-domain’s A record.
A minus of a sub-domain would be that if you are using a CDN provider, such as Cloudflare, you need to deploy the record inside the DNS zone there, otherwise, it will not resolve correctly.
Sub-directories are a part of the domain name, however, they are reflected in the URL after the TLD, separated by a slash (/). An example of that would be our blog, hosted at “hostarmada.com/blog”. As opposed to sub-domains, these directories do not need to be created in the same manner. You can simply deploy a folder in the root directory of your domain name and install any software or application. It will be immediately accessible online, without you needing to configure any DNS records for it.
One of the benefits of using this type of structure is that you create the folder or directory, deploy the app, and it is immediately accessible through the browser. It is easy and requires no DNS configurations.
A downside of this type of structure is that you cannot point it and use it on another server, at least in the form it is now. Technically, what you can do is deploy a sub-domain and move the contents of the sub-directory there, however, as mentioned above, the structure will change, and you may not want to do that.
At HostArmada, we specialize in solving any type of DNS issues and web application deployment for our clients in whatever structure they need. If you found this article useful, please be sure to check the rest of our knowledge base.