HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): Definition, Need, Working Mechanism
This post summarizes all the information related to HTTP and its variants like HTTPS, HTTP/2, etc. along with their working and need on the internet.
Have you ever wondered why every site has an Http (https) protocol before its domain name? Be patience. We help you to find out why it is so.
Hence, in this post, you are going to get all the information related to Http. Besides this, we also discussed various types of other protocols that we are using in our daily lives of the internet.
So, first thing first, let’s start the topic with an HTTP overview.
Overview of HTTP
In common, HTTP is the short text for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is the special protocol that acts as a transferring means of exchanging messages (forms of packets) between web components i.e. between the client and server.
Wonder!!! What does a protocol mean? A protocol is simply a rule that facilitates communication between two web networks.
In general, it is the most common way of transferring resources over the web and is the foundation of all the communication that happens on www.
And you commonly encountered it in the URL of any website with a preferred protocol, just before the www as http (now commonly used as Https).
History and Development
While talking about its development and history, it was introduced in the year 1991 by Tim Berners-Lee and his team at, European Organization for Nuclear Research which is now known as CERN.
But actually, the term “hypertext” was first coined in 1965 by Ted Nelson as a part of the Xanadu Project. The need for Hypertext Transfer Protocols arose with the introduction of new webspace. As in 1989, a new term comes in the role that we all are familiar with, the WWW — World Wide Web.
In addition, to expand the protocol operations, a new document was released in 1995 that encapsulates the extended operations, richer meta-information along with a security protocol that became to make it more efficient and diversified over communication.
Why do we need HTTP?
The answer to this question is already answered. As we all know that it is a protocol that allows us to communicate via data packets over different web components.
And the most common example is you. Yah! That’s right.
You are reading this post through communication between our hosted website server to your browser in which you are reading this line. Therefore, our server sends data packets to your browser that could represent any things like texts, images, fonts, etc and with a server you can transmit a sort of data to your clients.
However, a genuine problem with the Hypertext Transfer Protocol is that it can be viewed by third parties because it is not fully encrypted. So, anyone, i.e. outsiders can easily collect data that has been passed between the two systems.
But don’t panic, our website has an Https protocol enabled that made your information encrypted from any third-party threats.
How does HTTP Work?
Hypertext Transfer Protocol is a request-response or connectionless text-based protocol that enables users to interact with the hosting server or vice versa. Here, the client (web browsers) send requests to web servers for web content (such as web pages or images).
After the server handles the request and delivers the content to the browser, the connection gets broken between both the client and the server over the Internet.
Therefore, for each request, a new connection has to be generated. While talking about the server end, the clients generally use Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connections to communicate with servers.
However, there are two computing processes are carried out in http connection, one is Http Authentication, and the second is Http Caching.
A. HTTP Authentication
As Hypertext Transfer Protocol is not encrypted, there are high chances of stealing information by third parties or outsiders. But to stop them, they have an authentication system.
It has various authentication measures to protect the client’s information from getting surpassed by anonymous hackers.
These are simple access authentication and digest access authentication. These two measures use a challenge-response mechanism where the server recognizes a challenge and issues until data packets are not completely exchanged as per the request.
2. HTTP Caching
An HTTP cache is a locally stored page copy of web resources to compensate for the server loads and also facilitate faster loading for the next session.
How Encryption can be done in Http?
For establishing an encrypted Hypertext Transfer Protocol connection, the most standard way is to switch to an HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), which is a secure version of Hypertext Transfer Protocol.
And specifically talking about Google updates, any web servers that have a non-secure version of Hypertext Transfer Protocol can be alarmed as an unsafe website by Google. Another method for establishing an encrypted HTTP connection is by using the HTTP/1.1.
Other Similar Protocol
1. HTTPS Protocol
As stated earlier HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure which tends to be encrypted Hypertext Transfer Protocol data. In this protocol, encryption is done by both the parties i.e. the client and server. And the big difference between HTTPS and Hypertext Transfer Protocol is its data ports. Https send data through 443 ports, while Hypertext Transfer Protocol sends data over 80 ports.
And it operates through an encrypted layer that is governed by SSL certificates which are truly signed by a CA.
2. Http/1.1 (HTTP/1.1 Upgrade header)
HTTP/1.1 is the upgraded version of Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Like HTTP it works with WWW application protocol that runs on top of the Internet’s TCP/IP protocols.
However, this updated version of http delivers data at a faster rate of web pages than the former version. This protocol was developed by a committee of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and it also supports the latest web servers and browsers.
This is a little bit complicated to understand as it is an Hypertext Transfer Protocol upgraded mechanism on a plain HTTP. In this protocol, the client first starts to send data packets to an HTTP/1.1 connection and then sends an upgrade: h2c header.
Therefore, if the server supports HTTP/2, it replies with an HTTP101 protocol that represents the Switching Protocol status code. And then communication takes place via HTTP/2 protocol.
While talking about the goal of HTTP/2, they are generally used to reduce latency between the communication. Hence, with HTTP/2 you can achieve better communication with a faster response between server and clients.
Frequently Asked Question
1. Is HTTP a secured protocol?
Ans. No, it is unsecured because encrypted data is not transferred to a secure connection. However, its secure version i.e. HTTPS uses two-way encryption which is usually called to be an end to end encryption between the website and the browser.
2. What is the difference between HTTP and WWW?
Ans. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is a transfer protocol while www is an identifier that is commonly used before the domain name. And an URL can be without www but HTTP (or its variants) must be used to exchange data between two web components (server and clients).
3. Does HTTP/2 require SSL?
Ans. No, HTTP/2 doesn’t require any SSL certificates, but you can use encryption as its higher data transfers don’t hinder that much to its performance.
4. Is HTTP/2 faster than HTTP/1.1?
And. Definitely, yes. HTTP/2 has a faster performance which results in higher site speeds and loading time than HTTP/1.1.