When to use a MySQL socket and when to use a host:port?

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http://serverfault.com – Many applications allow me to connect to Mysql using a username, password host and port. Some allow me to configure a socket instead of the host:port. Is there any clear benefit of one over the other? I can imagine that a socket only works when MySQL is on the same machine. Is that so? And if so, are there benefits over using that socket instead of connecting to localhost:3306? I am not too familiar with the ins- and outs of networking and sockets, so maybe I am completely missing some crucial information and my question is just plain stupid; if so, could you explain what I am missing? (HowTos)