How does the Internet Work?

When we talk about the Internet, what we’re actually referring to is an interconnected network of computers (hence, internet). Some of these computers are web servers, which are just specialized computers that contain and serve content from your favorite websites, and others are just the client devices.

What happens when you type a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) in your browser?
  • Your browser is what we call a “client device”. Each web server has its own unique IP address. When you type in “” into your browser, your browser contacts the DNS (domain name system) and looks up the IP address for that url. You can think of the DNS as a phone book
  • Once the IP address is retrieved, your browser attempts to connect to the web server of that IP address by opening up a socket connection. If someone responds, then you know they’re open and you’re connected. 
  • Now that your browser and the server have a open connection with each other, your request to a specific article on specific website can be made. But before your request can be sent over the internet, it has to follow a set of rules that describe how the request must be formatted. These set of rules are known as TCP/IP and the HTTP protocol. 
  • The request for the article is chopped up into packets. Once all the packets of data arrive at the web server, the web server will look for the specific article, similar to how you’d look for a file in a cabinet drawer. Once the file has been located, the web server will chop up the response into data packets again, and send them back to your browser. Finally, when all the data packets arrive back at your browser, your browser will reassemble all packets into the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and image files that represent the article.

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