Definition of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Hypertext transfer protocol, also known as HTTP, is an underlying protocol used by the Internet. This protocol defines how messages are formatted and transmitted. It also determines how browsers and web servers should respond to different commands.

Imagine that you enter a URL into your browser. Doing this sends a hypertext transfer protocol command to the web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested page. HTTP is a stateless protocol, but what exactly does that mean? A stateless protocol is where each command is executed independently. One command does not know about the commands that came before it. All requests originate from your browser and the server then responds to a request. The request, or command, are in a readable text.

Hypertext transfer protocol uses TCP/IP or UDP protocol. HTTP protocol supports 8 different request types:

• Get: requesting resource from server
• Post: submitting a resource to a server
• Put: like Post but replaces a resource
• Delete: deletes a resource from a server
• Head: like Get but returns only header and not content
• Options: gets options for resource
• Trace: performs message loop-back

What are HTTP status codes? HTTP status codes are error messages that pop up when you’re browsing the Internet. You have probably seen “404 error” and “502 error.” Knowing the meanings of these status codes can help you figure out why the problem occurred. “404 File Not Found” means that the web server can’t find what you requested. The webpage or document may have been deleted, moved, or the URL incorrectly typed. If you encounter this error, you can double-check that you entered the website correctly. Other common HTTP status codes you may see include: “400 Bad File Request,” which means something typed into the URL is incorrect, “408 Request Timeout,” which means the client stopped the request before the server could retrieve it, and “Host Unavailable,” which means the host server is down at the time.

What are the advantages of using hypertext transfer protocol? The public can easily engage with the world wide web when HTTP is involved. There is also a level of flexibility that comes with HTTP as it has the ability to download plugins and extensions, such as various readers and flash players, and display their data. HTTP pages are stored in caches and make content loading fast when the page is visited again.

Are there disadvantages to using hypertext transfer protocol? There are some important disadvantages to HTTP that a web creator should consider. Because there are no encryption methods used, your content can be altered. This is a big part of the reason HTTP is considered to be insecure. More importantly, data privacy is a big concern with HTTP. Hackers are more able to intercept requests and view content including visitors personal information such as usernames and passwords, banking and credit card information, and other contact information.

HTTP is an important protocol to understand because of how widespread its use is.

 

HTTP Definition Sources:

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