Distinguishing URI, URL, and URN: Understanding the Basics of the Internet

In today’s digital world, terms like URI, URL, and URN frequently appear, but not everyone knows the differences between them. This article will help you distinguish and understand these three core concepts of the internet.

Introduction to URI, URL, and URN


A URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) is a string of characters designed to identify a resource on the internet. It is a broad concept that includes both URL (Uniform Resource Locator) and URN (Uniform Resource Name).

Key Differences

URL (Uniform Resource Locator): A URL is a specific type of URI. It is a specific address that leads to a resource on the internet, such as a web page, image, video, or document. A URL not only identifies the resource but also provides the method to access that resource, such as the HTTP or FTP protocol.

URN (Uniform Resource Name): In contrast to a URL, a URN identifies a resource without specifying its location. It provides a unique name within a namespace for each resource, allowing us to search and retrieve resources independently of their current location.


Practical Applications

In practice, URLs are more commonly used than URNs due to their ability to directly access resources. However, URNs also have important applications, especially in systems where maintaining the uniqueness and specificity of a resource is crucial, such as digital libraries and databases.

The Importance of Understanding the Differences

A clear understanding of the differences between URI, URL, and URN is crucial for anyone working in the field of information technology. It helps us precisely determine the method and scope of accessing online resources, making web development and data management more efficient.


Each term—URI, URL, and URN—has its own meaning and application. Distinguishing and understanding them ensures the efficient and accurate use of resources on the internet.

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