/ HTTP Headers


In the realm of HTTP/1.1 protocol, the Accept-Ranges response header plays a crucial role in signifying a server’s capability to handle byte-range requests, a vital aspect of HTTP partial content delivery. This article will dissect the intricacies of the Accept-Ranges header, its practical usage, and examples illustrating its use.

Dissecting the Accept-Ranges Header

The Accept-Ranges header is used exclusively in HTTP responses and is not found in requests. Its presence indicates the server’s capability (or incapability) to handle byte-range requests for partial content delivery. Such functionality is pivotal when working with large resources, as it facilitates resumable downloads or streams.

A typical representation of this header might appear as:

Accept-Ranges: bytes

In this case, bytes indicates that the server accepts byte-range requests. If the server doesn’t support range requests, this header may contain the value none.

HTTP Request and Response with Accept-Ranges

To better understand the role of Accept-Ranges, let’s consider the following HTTP interaction.

A client might send a GET request to the server:

GET /large-video.mp4 HTTP/1.1
Host: www.example.com

The server can respond with the details of the resource and include the Accept-Ranges header to indicate its capability to handle range requests:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: video/mp4
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 1000000

In this response, Accept-Ranges: bytes informs the client that the server can handle byte-range requests. The Content-Length header is also included, informing the client about the total size of the resource.

If the client wants to retrieve a specific byte range, it can then send a range request:

GET /large-video.mp4 HTTP/1.1
Host: www.example.com
Range: bytes=0-99999

The Range header indicates that the client wants to retrieve the first 100,000 bytes of the video. The server, which has already signaled its capability to handle such requests, should respond appropriately.

Usage Considerations

While the Accept-Ranges header can be a powerful tool in facilitating efficient resource handling, it’s worth noting that its presence is not mandatory in all HTTP responses. Its relevance becomes prominent when working with large resources where partial content retrieval is beneficial. Clients should inspect the Accept-Ranges header value before issuing a range request to ensure the server can handle it.


In summary, the Accept-Ranges HTTP header communicates a server’s ability to process byte-range requests. While it’s not universally required, it’s particularly useful when dealing with large resources where partial content delivery is beneficial. As a developer, understanding this HTTP header can help design more robust and efficient web services by enabling resumable downloads and streaming.

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