HTTP vs. HTTPS: Full Comparison

http vs https

HTTP vs. HTTPS: Full Comparison

Key Points

  • The default port use for HTTP (port 80) and HTTPS (port 443) helps to explain some of the differences in performance between the two. 
  • Use of https over http has steadily increased. Half of the internet used https as of 2017, and that number is estimated to have increased to 76.3% today.
  • The primary difference between the two ultimately come down to issues of performance, vulnerability, and enhanced security.

Anyone who has ever used the internet has likely seen the phrases “http” and “https” at some point in their time. The phrases are necessary prefixes that come before someone can access a website, although these days, most web addresses automatically load them. They stand for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. But what are the key differences between HTTP vs HTTPS?

The primary difference between the two ultimately come down to issues of performance, vulnerability, and enhanced security. HTTPS is the far more secure version of a website, providing an array of enhanced security protections that come as a result of the specific protocols and ports used. However, these protections do come with certain drawbacks. 

http vs https
HTTPS is a more secure version of a website, compared to HTTP.

HTTP vs HTTPS: Side-by-Side Comparison

NameHypertext Transfer ProtocolHypertext Transfer Protocol Secure
What is it?Protocol that allows for individual users to visit websitesAn extension of HTTP
Primary useInternet usage and browsingSecure and encrypted internet use, financial transactions over the internet
Initial release19961995
Influential developersTim Berners-Lee, CERN, IETF, W3CNetscape
Open formatYesYes
Technologies influencedHTTPSS-HTTP, encryption software

HTTP vs HTTPS: Summary

The primary difference between http and https is the level of encryption. Https has an added layer of encryption that provides for enhanced security when compared to http. It accomplishes this by using Transport Layer Security (formerly known as Secure Sockets Layer), or TLS/SSL. TLS/SSL is a protocol that is designed to increase the security of communications that occur over the internet.

In addition to making it more difficult for individuals to hijack or access communication used over https, the TLS/SSL protocol also encrypts communications that occur using this protocol. This allows for the processing of sensitive information, like credit cards or payments.

The two protocols also use different ports. HTTP uses port 80, while HTTPS uses port 443. The use of port 80 vs. port 443 help to create security differences. HTTPS also has some advantages, such as increased Google search ranking.

Http does come with some limited advantages, however. Chief among them is boosted performance. This performance increase comes as a result to the ease in which internet service providers can load http websites. Since there are less security protections, the methods used to load a webpage take less time. The relative ease in which these methods are used results in faster load times and overall performance of HTTP over HTTPS.

However, these methods come with a significant security cost. Furthermore, many web browsers directly alert users when they are using an HTTP website, as opposed to an HTTPS website, directly informing customers about the vulnerability of using an insecure website.

HTTP vs HTTPS: Which is Better?

Browser: macro shot of www and cursor
Although http is faster than https it is not as secure.


By and large, there is really no question: HTTPS is preferred to HTTP. While there are some performance and speed boosts that come as a result of using HTTP over HTTPS, these limited trade-offs are simply not worth the increased vulnerability that comes with using an insecure internet protocol.

This goes for both personal and business websites, but particularly business ones, as using HTTPS will protect your data and the data of your customers. No business can afford a data breach, and HTTPS significantly reduces the odds of enduring such a breach. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is http?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is the protocol by which internet users can access websites, view content, and potentially exchange information.

What is https?

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is a more secure version of HTTP.

What is the difference between http vs https?

The primary difference is security and encryption. HTTPS is a more secure version and comes with a layer of encryption over standard HTTP.

Is http secure?

No. It is very, very easy for individuals to engage in electronic eavesdropping or directly hijack data or sensitive personal information when using HTTP.

Why is HTTP not safe?

HTTP lacks the robust security and encryption protocols that are commonly found on HTTPS. As a result, it can be easy to lose data, including sensitive financial information.

Why would you use HTTP instead of HTTPS?

HTTP is somewhat faster and usually cheaper to operate. However, there is no question that, on the whole, HTTPS is preferable to HTTP.

Does https authenticate web servers?

Yes, https helps to authenticate web servers. It does this through the use of encryption. When TLS creates the two keys — public and private — it shares the public key with the device using the SSL certificate. When the user opens a website the private key from the original server must match the public key that is shown in the SSL certificate. This then confirms that the original server is actually the host of the website.

In comparison, http does not do this. Instead, it operates on trust, and simply trusts that the website, person, or device is who they say that they are.

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