The Internet Gets a Speed Boost with HTTP/2

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It’s finally here, the next big thing you didn’t know you were waiting for:  Hypertext Transfer Protocol 2 (HTTP/2). I’m sure you’re asking yourself “what is that?” I was too, so I did some reading. HTTP/2 is the latest approved version of HTTP, the protocol used by browsers to download websites from servers. The last version, 1.1, has not been updated since 1999, which may as well been a lifetime ago considering the evolutionary speed of web development. That was before tablets, smart phones, smart TVs, and gaming consoles all had the ability to browse web pages. The world has drastically changed since then and now it’s time that the underpinning system of how these websites are delivered catches up.

The most notable difference in the updated protocol is the ability for browsers to make multiple requests to web servers on a single connection. Compare that to the old protocol where browsers are only allowed to make a single request. Picture trying to complete a puzzle via mail:  Using the old protocol, you would have to send a request for each piece in its own envelope and receive each piece in the same fashion. Now with HTTP/2, you can send an entire list of pieces in a single envelope and have a single envelope returned to you – a much more efficient way of doing this. Another added benefit is now servers predict which jigsaw pieces you need and send them on the first line of communication without even needing a request! The concept is simple but it was a much-needed improvement to how browsers and servers communicate.

Unfortunately HTTP/2 isn’t a magic pill that your website swallows for the upgrade. To begin with, your website must be optimized for the new protocol. Otherwise, simply changing to HTTP/2 may actually reduce your website’s loading speed. Your users also have to take part in making the switch. The web browser and the server pushing a website must be using HTTP/2 meaning users won’t benefit from the new protocol unless their browsers are up to date. The browsers currently supporting HTTP/2 are: Chrome 40,Firefox 36,Internet Explorer 11 running on Windows 10, and Opera 21. The top web servers supporting HTTP/2 are: Apache, Internet Information Server, and nginx. Once you have successfully made the switch from HTTP 1.1 to HTTP/2 your visitors can enjoy the benefits of faster load times and a more secure website meaning a greater overall experience during their visit.

What this means for you:

HTTP/2 is launched and with a little work the Internet gets a little faster and more secure for us all. In order to see the benefits from the updated protocol, your website and server will need to be optimized for the improved HTTP/2.

Is your website current and working for you?  What do you think would make it better?