Why is an OPTIONS request sent and can I disable it
As a software engineer, you may have encountered an OPTIONS request while working with web applications. This type of request is often sent by browsers or other clients to determine what HTTP methods and headers are supported by a particular server. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why an OPTIONS request is sent and whether it can be disabled.
Table of Contents
- What is an OPTIONS request?
- Why is an OPTIONS request sent?
- Can I disable OPTIONS requests?
What is an OPTIONS request?
An OPTIONS request is an HTTP method that is used to retrieve information about the communication options available for a resource on a web server. When a client sends an OPTIONS request, the server responds with a list of HTTP methods which are supported by the resource, as well as any additional headers that can be used with those methods.
The OPTIONS method is often used in conjunction with Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) requests. CORS is a mechanism that allows web pages to make cross-origin requests to servers that are not under the same domain. When a browser sends a CORS request, it first sends an OPTIONS request to the server to check if the request is allowed. If the server responds with the appropriate headers, the browser can then proceed to send the actual request.
Here’s an example of what an OPTIONS response might look like:
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Allow: GET, POST, OPTIONS
Access-Control-Allow-Methods: GET, POST, OPTIONS
Access-Control-Allow-Headers: Content-Type, Authorization
In this example:
Allowheader indicates the HTTP methods that are allowed on the resource.
Access-Control-Allow-Originheader specifies which origin(s) are allowed to make the actual request (this is crucial for CORS).
Access-Control-Allow-Methodsheader lists the HTTP methods that are allowed when making the actual request.
Access-Control-Allow-Headersheader lists the HTTP headers that can be used when making the actual request.
Keep in mind that the actual headers in the response may vary depending on the server configuration and the specific requirements of the application. The
Access-Control-Allow-Headers headers, in particular, will be adjusted based on the server’s CORS policy.
Why is an OPTIONS request sent?
An OPTIONS request is sent for several reasons. First, it allows a client to determine what HTTP methods are supported by a particular resource. These methods can include GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, and others. By knowing what methods are supported, a client can make more efficient requests and avoid errors.
Second, an OPTIONS request allows a client to determine what headers are supported by a particular resource. Headers are used to provide additional information about a request or response, such as authentication information or content type. By knowing what headers are supported, a client can provide the appropriate information in its requests and responses.
Third, an OPTIONS request can be used to determine whether a particular resource is available on the server. If the server responds with a 404 status code, the client knows that the resource is not available and can take appropriate action.
Finally, an OPTIONS request is often used in conjunction with CORS requests to determine whether a cross-origin request is allowed. If the server responds with the appropriate headers, the browser can then proceed to send the actual request.
Can I disable OPTIONS requests?
It is generally not recommended to disable OPTIONS requests, as doing so can cause problems with web applications and APIs. OPTIONS requests are an important part of the HTTP protocol and are used by many clients and servers to determine what methods and headers are supported.
If you do need to disable OPTIONS requests for some reason, there are several ways to do so. One way is to configure your web server to return a 405 Method Not Allowed status code for all OPTIONS requests. This will tell clients that the resource does not support the OPTIONS method and prevent them from sending further requests.
Another way to disable OPTIONS requests is to use a web application firewall (WAF). A WAF is a security tool that filters and blocks traffic based on predefined rules. By configuring your WAF to block OPTIONS requests, you can prevent them from reaching your web server.
However, it is important to note that disabling OPTIONS requests can have unintended consequences. For example, if you are using a third-party API that requires OPTIONS requests, disabling them could break the API and cause errors in your application. Additionally, disabling OPTIONS requests may not provide any additional security benefits, as attackers can simply use other HTTP methods to probe your server.
In conclusion, an OPTIONS request is an important part of the HTTP protocol and is used by many clients and servers to determine what methods and headers are supported by a particular resource. While it is possible to disable OPTIONS requests, doing so can cause unintended consequences and is generally not recommended.
As a software engineer, it is important to understand the role of OPTIONS requests in web applications and APIs. By leveraging the information provided by an OPTIONS request, you can make more efficient requests and avoid errors in your applications.
About Saturn Cloud
Saturn Cloud is your all-in-one solution for data science & ML development, deployment, and data pipelines in the cloud. Spin up a notebook with 4TB of RAM, add a GPU, connect to a distributed cluster of workers, and more. Join today and get 150 hours of free compute per month.