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12Dec/130

Article – Host-named Site Collections

Host header or Host-named?

I know for most of us, at the beginning, these 02 terms, what they are and difference between these 02 are very confusing. I'm writing this to help you understand it very easily.

Prior to SharePoint 2013

With the early releases of SharePoint, when we wanted to create a new Site Collection, we had 2 options to define their URLs:

  1. Rely on physical server name and port combination
  2. Rely on host header paths

Physical server name and port combination

This was the case we used to rely on almost all the developer environments. We ended up having web application URLs attached to the physical server name and port combination, similar to:

Site Collections we created using this approach ended up having URLs similar to:

Host header path

As an alternate, this approach helps us to address some of the issues we faced in the previous approach. With this approach we will create a Web Application by assigning a user-friendly host header such as http://contoso.com. We depend on either local hosts file (in case of development environments) or DNS (in case of staging and production environments) for mapping host header to the server IP and port. With this approach, we can have URLs similar to:

With this approach, we will be able to overcome the main issues we faced with the physical server name and port combination URLs approach. However, what if we want to create site collections with following URLs:

With any of the above 02 approaches, to implement URLs like shown above, we need to create multiple web applications each pointing to above host headers as their starting URL. Because, host headers are assigned for Web Applications and we cannot assign multiple host headers for the same Web Application. Having to creating multiple Web Applications to implement above URLs schema is not going to be a practical solution since:

  • There is a limitation of no of Web Applications which can be hosted in farm
  • Creating lot of Web Applications will introduce additional processing overhead to the farm

With SharePoint 2013

With SharePoint 2013, we can solve the above problem with an approach called Host-named Site Collections. With Host-named Site Collections approach, we can create Site Collections with user-friendly URLs with different domain names within the same Web Application. With Host-named Site Collections approach we can create following Site Collections within the same Web Application:

Now we can have just 01 Web Application, with multiple user-friendly URLs, with different domain names in them as the starting point for Site Collection URLs.

Note: though, it's a very useful approach, creating Host-names Site Collections is little tricky since it can be created only by using Windows PowerShell and cannot be created using SharePoint Central Administration web site.

Posted by Joy