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header – PHP: get_headers set temporary stream_context

Posted by: admin July 12, 2020 Leave a comment


I guess PHP’s get_headers does not allow for a context, so I have to change the default stream context to only get the HEAD of a request. This causes some issues with other requests on the page. I can’t seem to figure out how to reset the default stream context. I’m trying something like:

$default = stream_context_get_default(); //Get default stream context so we can reset it
stream_context_set_default( //Only fetch the HEAD
    'http' => array(
       'method' => 'HEAD'
$headers = get_headers($url, 1); //Url can be whatever you want it to be
stream_context_set_default($default); //This doesn't work as it expects an array and not a resource pointer

Does anyone know a fix for this?

I know it has been suggested to use Curl, but I would rather not for this one. Thanks!

How to&Answers:

I ended up using the stream_get_meta_data() function to get the HTTP headers.

This is how I implemented it:

function get_headers_with_stream_context($url, $context, $assoc = 0) {
    $fp = fopen($url, 'r', null, $context);
    $metaData = stream_get_meta_data($fp);

    $headerLines = $metaData['wrapper_data'];

    if(!$assoc) return $headerLines;

    $headers = array();
    foreach($headerLines as $line) {
        if(strpos($line, 'HTTP') === 0) {
            $headers[0] = $line;

        list($key, $value) = explode(': ', $line);
        $headers[$key] = $value;

    return $headers;

Called like this,

$context = stream_context_create(array('http' => array('method' => 'HEAD')));
$headers = get_headers_with_stream_context($url, $context, 1);

it gives you what you’re after while leaving the standard stream_context unmodified.

Please note that this function will fail if passed anything other than an http url.

There seems to be a feature request for an additional argument for get_headers(), but the bug tracker is down as I’m writing this, so I can’t check for other solutions there.


I had a similar issue but I just used the file_get_contents function with the custom stream context instead.

Here’s how I implemented it:

$options = array(
               'http' => array(
                     'method' => 'HEAD',
                     'follow_location' => 0

$context = stream_context_create($options);

@file_get_contents($url, NULL, $context);


Using this context only the headers will be fetched by file_get_contents and will populate the $http_response_header PHP variable.


Instead of the accepted answer, I did the following, which will work in PHP 5.3 and above, though I haven’t fully tested it. (There’s also a stream_context_get_params($context) but I think this is enough.)

$stream_context_defaults = stream_context_get_options(stream_context_get_default());
        'http' => array(
            'method' => 'HEAD'
for ($i = 1; $i <= 10; $i++) {
    $headers = get_headers('http://www.example.org');
stream_context_set_default($stream_context_defaults); // reset to defaults