HTTP is a protocol that all web developers must familiarize themselves with. It was introduced in 1989 by Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, which he developed using a single NeXTcube workstation, and it continues to prove reliable for networks with port connection speeds surpassing 10 megabits.
Then, in 2015, the Internet Engineering Task Force released HTTP/2, which quickly rose in popularity as the second most useful internet protocol available. Now, Leaseweb CDN is using HTTP/2 to deliver the content even faster globally.
What Are Some of the Benefits of HTTP/2?
In short, HTTP/2 is faster and more secure, which is why its adoption happened so quickly. Due to the advanced development of HTTP/2 protocols, concatenation and domain sharding are no longer necessary. And unlike traditional HTTP, HTTP/2 is binary instead of textual. As a result, it’s much easier to send bits/bytes and strings representing numbers due to their more compact structure.
The fully multiplex system enables HTTP/2 protocols to use a single TCP connection to send multiple parallel requests for data. This allows individuals to download web files using Async mode, a feature that’s extremely beneficial because modern browsers have TCP connection limits set to allow a single server.
HTTP/2 protocols also reduce overhead by utilizing an HPACK header compression proposed of GZIP context. Instead of waiting for each resource to generate a new request, HTTP/2 allows servers to “push” responses into client caches. This eliminates wait time and dramatically improves the time necessary to retrieve connections and resources associated with larger bandwidth delay products. As a result, the round trip times (RTT) are reduced, allowing websites to load up to 30 percent faster. Additionally, ALPN extensions boost security by providing a faster encrypted connection.
In addition to having improved performance and amped security features, HTTP/2 is widely supported by most browsers. Of course, though, you will need a current browser version that supports this protocol in order to experience some of the most optimal features.
Key Differences When Using HTTP/2 for the First Time
Most experts were expecting a wide variety of new features in the HTTP/2 protocol. But because the final version was designed to maintain backward compatibility with the previous HTTP/1.1 version, a lot of new features were not included in it. Users can expect to see the same POST and GET requests they are accustomed to, as well as 500, 404, 301, and 200 status codes.
Although several advancements have been made to make the websites load faster, such as compression page headers, these are more vulnerable to BREACH and CRIME attacks. Encryption is not typically required — however, data encryption can benefit users against government surveillance and hacks.
HTTP/2 developers decided to leave encryption unchanged from the HTTP/1.1 version. Browser developers are able to address security issues by activating HTTP/2 only if SSL/TLS protocols are available, or website owners can choose to implement other lower-level security measures.
How to Activate HTTP/2 for Your Site
Aside from ensuring your website is using HTTPS, there’s not much else you have to do to activate HTTP/2 for your website. Here at Leaseweb, end users connect to our CDN instead of the server, so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the increased speed for all your small objects — because this is where it will really make the most difference. And as a bonus, HTTPS is priced the same as HTTP traffic, so HTTP/2 is active by default at no extra cost.
By joining the Connect and SSL connections timing as a column within the HttpWatch, users can clearly see how the SPDY and HTTP/2 work to create connections for each individual hostname. The multiplexing support that was added in SPDY and HTTP/2 works to reduce the number of connections that need to be set up in order to download a page. This happens by allowing multiple requests to send and receive data concurrently using a single connection. Additionally, web servers will not have to maintain as many active TCP connections as HTTP/2 usage becomes more common.