URL Examples: The 3 Key Formats in Web Navigation

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

URL Examples: The 3 Key Formats in Web Navigation (2023)

URL Examples

Imagine for a moment that the internet is an enormous, bustling city. The URLs are like street addresses guiding you to your destination. Just as you have residential, commercial, and special use areas in a city, so do you have different types of URLs in this city of the Internet.

Summary

URLs, or Uniform Resource Locators, are unique addresses used to locate specific content on the web. They come in various types, including HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP URLs, each designed for different functions and levels of security, much like addresses guiding us to different locations in a city.

Example 1 – HTTP URLs: These are the most common URLs. They start with “http://” and are used to locate websites on the internet. Despite their popularity, they lack the security provided by HTTPS URLs.

Example 2 – HTTPS URLs: They begin with “https://”. The “s” stands for secure, indicating that all communication between your browser and the website is encrypted, providing additional safety.

Example 3 – FTP URLs: Starting with “ftp://”, these URLs are used to download or upload files from a server. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, indicating their role in transporting files across the internet.

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URL Examples – In-depth

HTTP URLs: Navigating the City of the Internet

Imagine you’re in a new city, and you’re trying to find your way to a famous landmark, like the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty. You’re not quite sure where to start, but you have an address. In your hands is a map and a compass, and off you go, navigating the bustling streets and winding lanes, until you find what you’re looking for. On the Internet, this is pretty much what HTTP URLs do – they are the addresses and compasses of the digital world.

HTTP URLs, short for HyperText Transfer Protocol URLs, are like the postal addresses of the Internet city. They start with the prefix ‘http://’. Much like how a postal address guides you to the exact location of a house in a city, an HTTP URL guides your web browser to the right website on the Internet.

Let’s break it down even further. ‘HTTP’ is the protocol that’s used for transferring hypertext (the ‘ht’ in HTTP) across the Internet. Hypertext is a fancy term for ‘text containing links to other texts’. This is the essence of the web: interconnected pages of information.

The rest of the URL contains the specific directions to the web page you want to visit. For instance, in the URL ‘http://www.example.com‘, ‘www.example.com‘ is the domain name, which acts like a street name. Further, ‘/page1’ would be equivalent to the house number, guiding you to the exact location of the content you’re seeking.

But here’s an interesting quirk about our HTTP URL city. It’s a bit like the Wild West of the old days. It’s not particularly secure. Any data you send or receive from an HTTP URL can be seen by others. It’s like having a conversation in the middle of a busy street – not very private, right?

So, while HTTP URLs are definitely common and useful for navigating the vast cityscape of the Internet, they are not without their risks. They get us where we want to go, but it’s always important to be aware of the surroundings and understand that we might be watched.

So next time you type in an HTTP URL, remember, you’re embarking on an urban adventure through the streets of the Internet city. Stay tuned as we explore other kinds of URLs – the secure suburbs and the high-speed highways – in the next sections of our digital exploration.

HTTPS URLs: The Secure Suburbs of the Internet

Imagine you’re moving to a new city and looking for the perfect home. You have two choices: a house on a busy street, or one in a safe, guarded suburb. The first one, while more accessible, doesn’t offer much privacy. The second one, however, ensures you can go about your business with peace of mind, knowing your home and your conversations are secure. In the vast cityscape of the Internet, HTTPS URLs offer this kind of security.

HTTPS URLs, or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure URLs, are like the secure, gated communities of the digital world. They start with ‘https://’ and they are, in essence, HTTP URLs but with an added layer of protection. Think of it as moving from an open street into a gated community, where the guards ensure only authorized individuals can get in.

The ‘s’ at the end of ‘https’ stands for ‘secure.’ When you connect to a website using an HTTPS URL, your connection is encrypted. This means that all the data transferred between you and the website is scrambled, like a secret code only you and the website can understand. So even if someone intercepts the data, all they’ll see is a bunch of gibberish. It’s like having a private conversation in a coded language, in the middle of a crowded room. Even if someone eavesdrops, they won’t understand a thing.

Websites that handle sensitive information, like banks or online stores, use HTTPS URLs. This means when you’re entering your bank details or credit card information, you can rest assured it’s safe from prying eyes.

So, how can you tell if a website uses HTTPS? Besides the ‘https://’ in the URL, look for a padlock icon in your browser’s address bar. If it’s there, you’re browsing securely.

Just remember, while HTTPS URLs offer increased security, they’re not entirely foolproof. There are still ways hackers could potentially gain access to your data, particularly if you’re using a shared computer or unsecured Wi-Fi network. It’s a bit like living in a gated community but leaving your front door unlocked. So always ensure you’re taking additional steps to protect your information online.

In our Internet city, the HTTPS URLs are the safe and secure suburbs. They offer a peace of mind that’s often worth the extra ‘s’. So, pack your bags, and let’s move to the secure side of the web. In the next part of our journey, we will explore the highways of the digital cityscape: the FTP URLs. Stay tuned!

FTP URLs: The High-Speed Highways of the Internet

Picture yourself setting off on a road trip. Your car is loaded with boxes, luggage, or maybe a newly purchased piece of furniture. You wouldn’t choose the crowded city streets for this journey; instead, you’d opt for the highway – the fastest, most efficient route for transporting goods. This is where FTP URLs come into play in our grand city of the Internet. They’re the highways of the digital world, built for carrying heavy loads of files from one point to another.

FTP URLs, standing for File Transfer Protocol URLs, begin with ‘ftp://’. They are designed for one major purpose – to transfer files over the Internet. It’s not about browsing or searching for information, but more about delivering hefty cargo – the files – from your computer to a server, or vice versa.

Think about it this way: an FTP URL is like a trucker’s route on the Internet. It knows the best way to deliver large amounts of data efficiently and quickly. But instead of asphalt and traffic lights, this highway is made of data packets and servers.

In the URL ‘ftp://example.com’, ‘example.com’ is the domain name of the server to which you’re connecting. Once connected, you can download files from or upload files to that server. It’s like driving onto the highway, getting to your destination, unloading your cargo, or picking up new cargo to bring back.

Unlike the general city streets (HTTP URLs) and the secure suburbs (HTTPS URLs), FTP URLs are not typically used by average Internet users in their daily web browsing. They’re more for those heavy-duty tasks, like website administrators updating files on their sites, or software developers sharing large codebases.

However, there’s a catch. While FTP URLs are efficient and powerful, they aren’t the most secure. It’s like a highway without toll booths or security cameras. Any data you send via an FTP URL, including your username and password, can potentially be intercepted. There are secure versions, like FTPS (FTP Secure) and SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol), but that’s a trip for another day.

In our bustling cityscape of the Internet, the FTP URLs are the indispensable highways, facilitating the smooth transfer of data cargo. Fast, efficient, but with a need for caution. As we continue our journey through the fascinating world of URLs, we hope you’re gaining new insights into the vast infrastructure that makes up our daily digital lives. Stay tuned for more exciting explorations!

Conclusions

We’ve journeyed through the bustling city of the Internet, explored its busy streets, secure suburbs, and high-speed highways. These URLs, or Uniform Resource Locators, each with their unique characteristics and functions, form the bedrock of our digital navigation.

From HTTP URLs that guide us to our desired websites, HTTPS URLs that provide an added layer of security, to FTP URLs which act as the transporters of digital cargo, they all play their unique roles in making the Internet the functional and dynamic city it is today.

Understanding these various types of URLs isn’t just fascinating, it’s crucial in today’s digital age. As we continue to inhabit this digital city, may we do so with greater knowledge, increased security, and an appreciative nod to the marvel that is the Internet.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

Why do some URLs start with www and others don’t?

The “www” is a subdomain and it’s often used for web servers. However, it’s not necessary for a website to function. Some websites choose to use it for traditional reasons or to manage their DNS setup more effectively, while others omit it.

Why are some URLs so long with lots of strange characters?

Sometimes, URLs contain additional information beyond the basic website address. This could be data tracking parameters, specific paths to content within a site, or query strings. These can make the URL longer and contain seemingly random characters.

What does it mean when my browser says a website’s certificate is invalid, even though it’s an HTTPS site?

HTTPS sites use certificates to prove their identity to your browser. If a certificate is expired, set up incorrectly, or issued by an entity your browser doesn’t trust, you’ll get a warning about the site’s certificate being invalid. It’s often a good idea to heed these warnings as they could indicate security risks.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor has tested 39 antivirus programs and 30 VPN services, and holds a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate from Stanford University.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.