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I have a GoDaddy account with a domain and hosting, and I see that I can forward the subdomains in https://dcc.godaddy.com/ or redirect subdomains in Hosting->Settings->"URL Redirects".

What's the difference between redirecting of forwarding a subdomain?

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3 Answers 3

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For GoDaddy, forwarding is redirecting every single URL on a domain to another domain using 301 redirects. This is a free service (or at least included at no extra charge with domain registration).

With forwarding here are some examples of what happens:

  • http://example.com/ 301 redirects to http://myrealdomain.tld/
  • http://example.com/page.html 301 redirects to http://myrealdomain.tld/page.html
  • http://example.com/directory/ 301 redirects to http://myrealdomain.tld/directory/

Godaddy offers URL redirects as part of hosting (a paid service). You have a lot more control over the redirects with hosting. Here is their documentation about redirecting using hosting. You can:

  • Control the type of redirect (301 vs 302)
  • Redirect the entire domain like forwarding
  • Redirect just a specific path on the domain
  • Using Linux cPanel, redirect a wildcard path
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Forwarding and URL is equivalent to Redirecting an URL. Is the same concept. You can use the words interchangeably.

However, while redirecting normally refer to the practice of sending an HTTP 30x status code (generally 301 for permanent and 302 for temporary redirects) the word forwarding assumes a broader meaning. In fact, several companies (including GoDaddy) provides different type of forwarding:

  • forward (redirect)
  • forward with masking

Forwarding an URL using the masking technique means instead of redirecting to the target transparently, the target URL is opened in a frame so that the visitor will always see the source URL in the address bar.

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A forward is performed server side and a redirect is performed client side.

When you forward something, the server forwards the request to another server/page and allows them to handle the request. This can be totally transparent as far as the client is concerned and even mask the URL. If you forward example.com to example.net then the end user will still see example.com in the address bar whilst actually browsing example.net

When you redirect, you issue a response back to the client telling them to go elsewhere. If the user navigates to example.com and you redirect them to example.net, you generally send a 30x response with the address you want them to go to. The user's browser then makes a second request to example.net and navigates there manually.

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While your answer is correct in some contexts, this is not how GoDaddy uses the terminology. This would be the correct difference between forwarding and redirecting in the context of the Java Servlet framework. –  Stephen Ostermiller Nov 5 '13 at 14:20

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