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How does the Internet work?

sameerkatija profile image Sameer Katija ・4 min read

If you are reading this article then it means you are surfing the internet, but do you know how it works? Most of us use the internet every day but we don’t know how it works. Like electricity in our homes, we use it every day but we don’t know the hidden information of it’s working. Well So let’s be the part of 10% who actually knows that how the internet works.

Let’s discuss the internet first before jumping into the mechanics of the internet. We live in a global village that is a result of the internet. Internet is not a real entity or place that has a building. Instead, it is the collaborative effort of the peoples and computers throughout the world. The result is an electronic link to the world of information and entertainment. In simple words, the Internet stands for interconnected networks, which is a network of networks and connects millions of computers through the wire, fiber optics, and satellite, which allow us to communicate, share data, sell anything or buy anything all over the world.

The Internet is useful because the two servers connected directly to it can communicate. Servers are nothing but special computers directly connected to the internet. The webpages are the hypertext markup file know as HTML files stored on the server’s hard disk.
As our houses have a postal address like that each Server has unique strings of characters known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address through which one computer communicates with the other. Like thoughtsbuilder.com has an IP of 194.59.164.205.

This unique Ip of thoughtsbuilder.com is not easy to remember, imagine thousands of the websites out there would it be possible to remember their IPs. The Blunt answer is “BIG NO”. There’s where Domain Name comes in. The Domain name for 194.59.164.205 is thoughtsbuilder.com. With Domain names, we don’t need to remember the IP address of the servers. We just use a domain name like google.com, twitter.com.

A system called Domain Name System (DNS) associates names with their corresponding IP address. Your computer uses the DNS to look up the domain name and get the associated IP address, which is used to connect your computer to the destination on the internet.
Our Computers at home are not Servers, because they aren’t directly connected to the internet. They are connected to the Internet via Internet Service Providers (ISP). ISP is an organization that provides services for accessing and participating in the internet.

Let’s dig deep into the DNS, Let’s suppose your computer says I want to go to www.thoughtsbuilder.com. Your computer will make a request and it will go to local DNS or ISP and look up the address there. If found it will return the address else it will redirect the request to other DNS available until the address is found or all the DNS servers respond negatively. In case the result is found the address is sent to a computer to establish the connection through internet protocol. There is no way one DNS server can handle so many requests, therefore DNS servers are connected in a distributed hierarchy and are divided into zones, splitting up the responsibility for major Top Level Domains (TLDs).

Now that we know a lot about DNS and all that other stuff now let’s break down what happens if someone visits thoughtsbuilder.com. As we have discussed, our computer will have a DNS lookup and after getting the associated IP address. Our Computer sends the request to the server of thought builder with their IP address to get the response back on that IP address. Once the request is approved the server then sends the copy of the website using packets. Oh Boy!!! Now, what are these packets? Let’s take the example of the company which builts Rocket. They have built a rocket and now they want to send this rocket to the launch station what they will do? They will break down the rocket into components which is easy to carry and they will send the components to the launch station using different available transport. Each of these transport may reach the destination by different times and different routes. Once they all reach there, All the components are then again assembled into one and the rocket is ready to get launched. Similarly, the copy of the website we will get from the server of thought builder will be divided into short components know as packets and each packet has an address of from where they originated and where they are going. After receiving all the packets, our computer will assemble them and will show us the webpage.

Well, here comes the question how can we make sure that the packets we receive are complete and any of the packets are not missing? Here comes the Transmission Control Protocol or TCP. TCP manages the sending and receiving of all your data as packets. It is a guaranteed mail system. When Thoughts builder Server sends the packets TCP will ensure that none of the packets is missing by sending back acknowledgment and signs the delivery and it’s done. If there was any missing packet the TCP will not sign the delivery and will ask for the packets again and thoughtsbuilder’s server will resend. Once all the packets are received your website will be rendered.
So, I hope you have got to know, How does the Internet Works.
P.S: If you are curious about Thoughts builder, It’s my blog where I write business and self-help articles.

Discussion (2)

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aftabksyed profile image
Aftab Syed

Great breakdown of the process 🙂

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sameerkatija profile image
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