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HTTP VS HTTPS VS WWW

Posted By Randal On October 8, 2013 @ 11:27 AM In Computer Terms,I've Always Wanted To Know...,Uncategorized,Using The Internet | 1 Comment

Catherine from Arizona writes “I have an HP windows 7 OS. It is less than a yr. old. My address bar reads http://hp.desktop.usmsn.com/?pc=HPDTDF&OCID=HPDHP instead of http://www. as it should. I have called HP for help but no one has been able to fix it and does not seem to care. Thank you.”

Hi, Catherine.  Thanks for the great question.  I’m sure that these prefixes have confused a lot of our readers.

First off, let me assure you that either with or without the “www”, your web addresses will still read fine.  WWW simply indicates that what you’re looking up is a web site (as opposed to a file, an RSS feed or something similar). For most websites that you visit, you will not have to enter the WWW, as it will be understood by the computer. 

The first part, the “http” or “https” stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol or HyperText Transfer Protocol (Secured), and basically tells your computer how to communicate with that particular website.  On a side note, if you’re doing a financial transaction over a website, you really want to look for that S at the end of HTTP.  If there is no S there, it is not a secure website and you may want to reconsider entering your financial information.  Again, for most websites, you will not have to enter the HTTP or the HTTPS.

There is a scientific principle called Occam’s Razor.  What the razor says, boiled down to it’s essence, is that the simplest solution is usually the correct one.  So the way to apply the razor to entering website information would be, for instance, if you wanted to visit Google, instead of going through all the rigmarole of typing HTTPS://WWW.GOOGLE.COM, simply type GOOGLE.COM.  From that information, the internet will automatically detect what you’re looking up (a website) and the communications protocol (HTTPS) and fill this information in for you. 

Now, if what prompted your question is that websites are not displaying correctly or at all, then there is a deeper problem than simply the prefixes that you’re entering, because, as I say, the computer will detect those automatically.  If this is the case, please resubmit your question, including any error messages that you’re receiving and we’ll be happy to help you with those errors.  Also, if you contact HP again, please tell them what error you’re receiving and I’m sure that they’ll help.  I’m sorry that your experience is that they don’t care, but my experience with HP is that they are unfailingly helpful, if they can help.  If this is a problem with your modem, your router or your internet connection, they may not be able to.  You might also try a different browser.  For instance, if you’re using Internet Explorer, you might try Firefox or Chrome.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer


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