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Header (computing)

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In information technology, header refers to supplemental placed at the beginning of a block of data being stored or transmitted. In data transmission, the data following the header is sometimes called the payload or body.

It is vital that header composition follows a clear and unambiguous or format, to allow for .

  • : The text (body) is preceded by header lines indicating sender, recipient, subject, sending time stamp, receiving time stamps of all intermediate and the final mail transfer agents, and much more.
  • Similar headers are used in () messages, and .
  • In a sent via the , the data (payload) are preceded by header information such as the sender's and the recipient's , the protocol governing the format of the payload and several other formats. The header's format is specified in the Internet Protocol.
  • In data packets sent by wireless communication, and in of data stored on , typically the header begins with a to allow the receiver to adapt to analog amplitude and speed variations and for frame synchronization.
  • In graphics file formats, the header might give information about an image's size, resolution, number of colors, and the like.
  • In archive file formats, the file header might serve as a or to identify the specific and corresponding software utility.
  • In some programming languages (for example C and C++) the are declared in .

See also
  • Protocol overhead
  • Trailer (computing), used in computer networking
  • Field (computer science)

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