What is an HTTP response header?
When you enter a URL into a browser window and press enter, you generate a GET request for some resource (probably a webpage). When the server responds to the request with the content, it includes information about the transaction in the response header. The response header is a text-based component attached to a network packet that contains the server and content information. The response headers are divided into name/value pairs, such as Content-length: 148. Although controlling agencies standardize some fields, some applications define additional fields.
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Why look at my response header?
Your response header fields tell you information about the responding server, which comes in really handy when you’re troubleshooting issues. The response headers are also full of information that the browser uses to process your page contents. For example, your response header has information about caching content; if these values are incorrect, you could be adversely affecting performance by repeating requests for duplicate content, or you may include stale content if the time to live is set too long.
Server response time
Your results include the total time it took to get a response. This value includes your resolve, connection, and download times. If your response time is too long, it is an indicator that you have latency issues or a poor performing server.
Server IP address
Depending on your website’s architecture, your responses may always come from one server or one of many different servers. Having the IP address of the responding server can help you to find problems faster.
Response status codes
The first piece of information shown is the HTTP response code. A response code of 200 ok is optimal, but anything below 400 is an indication of a successful request. Codes 400 and above mean problems.
The content-type header tells the browser what type of content the body contains. The browser can sniff out the media type, but a wrong content-type may cause unforeseen problems.
The server also passes cookies in the response header. This snippet of code contains session information, user preferences/information, and tracking. A single set-cookie header may contain multiple cookies.
The content-length header gives the size (in bytes) of the response body. Checking this field may reveal wrong or missing content, and this value is commonly checked during web monitoring.
Check your security response headers
An important part of your response headers is for your users' security. The security response headers set security policies for the browsers communicating with the website. Headers, such as the content-security-policy and x-frame-options, can stave off common hacks such as a clickjacking attack.
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Uptrends' 226 checkpoints make it easy to check your website’s availability from your users' locations. You will also spot latency and other performance problems.
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A modern website may contain hundreds of requests, each with its own headers. Uptrends Website Performance Monitoring gives you the full response headers for every request made.
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