/ HTTP Headers


The Host header is an essential part of HTTP/1.1 requests. It specifies the domain name or IP address of the server to which the request is being sent. This header is crucial for servers hosting multiple websites under a single IP address, as it allows the server to determine which site the request is intended for.

The Host header became a mandatory part of HTTP/1.1 requests, as specified in RFC 2616. Before HTTP/1.1, the Host header was optional, and servers could only host one website per IP address. With the introduction of the Host header, servers can now host multiple websites on the same IP address, a feature known as virtual hosting.

When a client sends an HTTP request to a server, it includes the ‘Host’ header to indicate the target domain or IP address. The server then uses this information to route the request to the appropriate website or application.

Syntax of the Host Header

The Host header consists of the domain name or IP address, followed by an optional port number. The syntax is as follows:

Host: domain-name[:port]


Host: IP-address[:port]

If the port number is not specified, it defaults to the standard port for the given protocol (e.g., 80 for HTTP and 443 for HTTPS).

Example of an HTTP Request with the Host Header

Here is a sample HTTP request that includes the Host header:

GET /index.html HTTP/1.1
Host: www.example.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/58.0.3029.110 Safari/537.36
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,image/webp,*/*;q=0.8

In this example, the client is requesting the /index.html resource from the www.example.com domain.

Host Header in Server Responses

The Host header is not included in server responses, as the server has already used the header to identify the target website or application. However, servers may use the Host header information to generate other response headers, such as the Location header in a redirect response.

Example of an HTTP Response without the Host Header

Here is a sample HTTP response that does not include the Host header:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Mon, 23 May 2022 22:38:34 GMT
Server: Apache/2.4.1 (Unix)
Last-Modified: Wed, 08 Jan 2022 23:11:55 GMT
ETag: "73-58aa-58c5eb64"
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 14606
Content-Type: text/html

In this example, the server has successfully processed the request and is returning the requested resource.


The Host header is a critical component of HTTP/1.1 requests, as it allows servers to host multiple websites under a single IP address. Clients include the Host header in their requests to specify the target domain or IP address, while servers use this information to route requests to the appropriate website or application.

The Host header is not included in server responses, as its purpose has already been fulfilled.

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