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HTTP is a hypertext transfer protocol, and it’s used for easier and faster communication between the client and the server the client is trying to access. When an internet user wishes to access specific data, HTTP protocol transfers data from the web server and allows the users to view the web page in their browser.

Think of HTTP as a messenger that sends you the messages from the server and sends the server your messages. You can use it for all types of data – from media like videos, audio recordings, images to documents, web pages, and so on. If you want to learn more about HTTP and why it is essential, make sure to read our guide to the end.

What is the web?

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Many people mistake the Internet for the web. The most common difference between the Internet and the web is that the Internet is physical infrastructure, while the web is entirely digital. Here are some key characteristics of the web:

  • The web links information – The web links information on one personal computer/mobile device with other personal computers and mobile devices. It makes it easier for the users to access the information they are interested in.
  • It is linked by hyperlinks A hyperlink is a gateway to another part of the web. If a user clicks on the hyperlink, they will be “taken” to another portion of the web. That is called the Hypertext Transfer Protocol or simply HTTP. Common HTTP headers allow for the passing of additional information as forms of HTTP requests/responses.

The web is just one part of the Internet and should not be mistaken for the Internet. To some users, they might seem interchangeable, but in reality, they are not. 

What is HTTP

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HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is a protocol that allows for message requests to reach the server. The server then “reads” the message sent by HTTP and responds with the results believed to best respond to the user’s inquiry. Think of HTTP as a messenger which helps you acquire the best results on the web.

Since it is designed to allow and enable communication between the users and the servers, HTPP will often return the information quickly. Since web browsers can cache the users’ previously accessed web resources, HTTP gets faster and better results.

History and role of HTTP

The first HTTP was started by a computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. The first HTTP did not perform the same function as it does nowadays – it was only the beginning. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), along with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), started working on the project after seeing its potential benefits.

It was not until 1996 that HTTP started performing a similar function as it does in contemporary times. Naturally, the protocol was upgraded, and it evolved, most commonly in 1997, 1999, and 2014. 

The newer variant is called HTTP, and it’s estimated that around 80% of all websites are using it. HTTP is constantly evolving and developing to provide a better and safer service. 

How the HTTP is used

HTTP uses encryption protocols to encrypt and protect communications. It is known as Transport Layer Security or TLS. Since communication is encrypted, you can only access it with the appropriate keys. Two different keys can be used for that:

  • Private key – A person who owns a website has a key no one except them has access to. When the public key provides information, the private key is used to decrypt it and send it back to the user. The key remains private all the time.
  • Public key – As its name suggests, a public key is available to the public using the Internet. The users can interact with the server by using the public key. The server still deciphers/decodes the information with a private key, but it enables the users to gain the information they requested.

HTTP headers are essential when it comes to this one. Common HTTP headers allow the users to acquire or exchange additional information with the website. HTTP headers are entirely encrypted and secure, and the only information you are sharing is details of the exchange you have requested as a user. If you are interested to know more, go to a blog article by Oxylabs to learn about the HTTP headers in specific scenarios. 

Conclusion

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a valuable protocol used to establish faster and better communication between the user and the server. The HTTP takes the message to the server and delivers the server’s response to the users. 

That allows the users to open the messages in their web browsers. They are valuable tools for Internet communication, and finding information without them would be extremely difficult.

You can also have a look at our Technology category to read more such articles.

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