wwws prefixes don't affect the browser's choice of HTTP or HTTPS protocol.
A few organisations use
wwws. to suggest that HTTPS is supported and arrange redirection so that users don't have to type the
https:// protocol specifier.
Currently, few organisations think this is worthwhile. There is a trend to drop prefixes like
In (a little) more detail
What does [wwws] mean?
Nothing. It is only a convention.
www is non-functional, it has no effect on the protocol used. However I believe Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World-Wide-Web, used it as a naming convention to indicate an HTTP server (i.e. a World Wide Web server). This helped to distinguish the server name from servers for other information-sharing protocols. E.g. some corporations had servers named
mail.example.com (or maybe even
wais.example.com). These prefixes were convenient for network administrators who wished to be able to locate these different services on separate servers. Nowadays other means of doing this have arisen. It is arguable the hostname prefixes were not convenient to end users. Most web browsers have tried to remove this burden from users by automatically adding
.com when the user enters single word attempts at a URL.
What is it used for?
To suggest that the server may support privacy of data in transit and certification of server identity.
A few people have taken to using
wwws as a naming convention for HTTPS servers, i.e. servers that support HTTP over Secure-Sockets-Layer (SSL).
Since the name has no effect on protocols, you can run a HTTPS service on a server named
foo.example.com or anything else.
The proponents of the
wwws convention say that
wwws is shorter and easier to type than
https:// and they can therefore configure their servers to redirect a HTTP request for a
wwws hostname to an HTTPS URL as a convenience for users who explicitly want to use HTTPS instead of HTTP but who find typing
https:// too much of a chore.
There are other ways to provide links to a secure version of a site. Most business that need security (shops, banks) will automatically redirect users to HTTPS pages without requiring users to type a special prefix to the hostname.
Why do only a handful of sites use it?
Since it has no functional purpose, almost nobody finds it a useful convention. The trend is to drop these prefixes (e.g. look above: superuser.com instead of www.superuser.com).
Try visiting these URLs:
Then check which URL shows up in the address bar of your browser.