FQDN vs PQDN: What is the difference?

When navigating the complexities of networking and IT, it’s essential to grasp various domain naming conventions, notably the distinction between Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDN) and Partially Qualified Domain Names (PQDN). This blog post delves into the FQDN vs PQDN debate, aiming to clarify these crucial concepts for both professionals and enthusiasts.

FQDN Explained

A Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) is the complete and absolute address of a host on the Internet, encompassing all domain levels, including the top-level domain (TLD) and any subdomains, right up to the host name. An FQDN is hierarchically structured from the most general (rightmost) to the most specific (leftmost) component.

Characteristics of FQDN:

  • Uniqueness: An FQDN is distinct across the internet.
  • Structure: It comprises the hostname and all domain levels, culminating in a top-level domain.
  • Example: For instance, server.example.com is an FQDN where server is the hostname, example is the second-level domain, and .com is the top-level domain.
  • DNS Resolution: FQDNs are pivotal in DNS lookups to resolve specific IP addresses.

Understanding PQDN

In contrast to FQDN, a Partially Qualified Domain Name (PQDN) is a domain name that isn’t entirely specified. It finds frequent use in local networks, where the context implicitly fills in the missing parts of the address.

Characteristics of PQDN:

  • Context-Dependent: PQDNs hinge on the context of the local network.
  • Incomplete: These names do not encompass all hierarchical domain levels.
  • Example: A PQDN could be as simple as server within a local network, where the rest of the domain (example.com) is implied.
  • Usage: PQDNs are typically employed in internal networks for easy communication within a limited scope.

FQDN vs PQDN: The Core Differences

  1. Completeness: FQDNs are exhaustive and fully specify a host’s position in the domain name system, whereas PQDNs are partial and rely on contextual understanding.
  2. Application Scope: FQDNs are essential for unique identification on the internet, crucial for web services and external communications. PQDNs are mainly used within local networks, where they rely on the network’s implicit context.
  3. DNS Resolution: Any DNS server on the internet can resolve an FQDN, while PQDNs require specific network contexts for resolution.
  4. Practical Examples: An FQDN like mail.google.com globally identifies a specific host (mail) within the google.com domain. Conversely, a PQDN like mailserver might be employed within a company’s intranet to denote its internal mail server.


Grasping the FQDN vs PQDN distinction is pivotal for network administrators, IT professionals, and those involved in network system management or setup. FQDNs ensure a globally unique and complete address, vital for internet-based communication, while PQDNs provide a shorthand for host identification within localized networks. Recognizing the appropriate usage of each can enhance network communication efficiency and prevent potential miscommunication.