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I see the default hostname for mail and web servers being set as mail.domain.tld and www.domain.tld respectively. Why is this? Does it help as you move from a single server to multiple servers?

I have always used plain domain.tld for both the mail and web server on a VPS (with a redirect rule for anyone that tries "www.").

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By tagging your question with "best practice" you've already given the answer. It's a convention. It's good practice to follow common conventions where it makes sense. –  RobM Jan 8 '11 at 20:32
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's not only convention. Many email clients (i.e. thunderbird) will try to autodiscover the correct and best IMAP/POP3/SMTP settings based on the TLD with minimal input (user@domain.tld and password). In my experience, they try mail.domain.tld, imap.domain.tld first until they get a response from a IMAP/POP3 server. Same as SMTP.

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Multiple server spanning is one component of the www convention. Another common reason is just that, convention. Some people are just accustomed to typing www before a url now and so, failing to add that subdomain can result in lost traffic. Better to implement it than risk losing some traffic.

And while you may be using a redirect on the www, it still doesn't hurt to have it anyways.

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Thanks, can you explain more about multiple server spanning? –  Xeoncross Jan 8 '11 at 20:54
    
Sure! Imagine you have a load-balancer in front of your main site to redirect based on current host loads. The easiest way to do this is to setup server one as www.site.com and the second server as www1.site.com, note the '1' in www, for the second site. This allows you to reference multiple servers. Let me know if that wasn't clear. Its a rather vague topic :D –  Publiccert Jan 8 '11 at 20:56
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