When you want to use SharePoint, you need to create a web application and a site collection within this web application. Very often I see installations, where the SharePoint-site is accessed using the hostname of the SharePoint machine. Is this a good solution? I don’t think so.
When creating a web application, you have four options for the web address:
1. use the “Default Web Site”, which uses the machine name
2. use a port number that is added to the machine name
3. use a host header
4. use a combination of host header and port number
Using port numbers is not very user friendly because it’s not so easy to keep this number in mind. That’s why we use Port 80 for sites that do not use SSL and Port 443 for sites that should use SSL. Using these standard ports is easy to use, because we can omit the port number in the browser.
So, to have a user friendly web address we can use the default web site or a host header. I recommend to use a host header for the web address for several reasons.
1. you can move SharePoint to any other machine
2. you can add web-frontends to your farm and these machines will handle the user requests
3. you can migrate (e.g. when a new version of SharePoint is released) to new hardware
The important thing when using host headers is that your name resolution needs to work. So you have to add an alias in your DNS, but that’s not really a problem. When you add additional web-frontend to your farm, you will create a NLB-cluster and this cluster needs it’s own IP-address. That’s the address where the alias should point to, when we are in a real farm with more then one web-frontend.
So, when you need to create a web application in your SharePoint farm, perform the following steps:
1. add an alias in your DNS that points to the correct machine or NLB-address
2. create the web application using a host header and the standard port (80 or 443)