How the Internet Works Part III - Your Computer to Servers and Back

Written by: Jack Thompson

How the Internet Works Part III - Putting it Together

From Your Computer to Servers and Back

If you haven't read Part I or Part II, make sure to check them out and come back!

By now, we should have a good understanding of the basics of what makes up the internet. Namely, we have our client that requests data using a web browser. That request travels through connections and nodes to reach server, which are databases that hold the files that make up websites. The server sends the information back through the connections, and our browser reads it and shows it to us.

However, there are a few other details that can take us to the next level of understanding. This article will share a little more info and put together all the pieces we defined.

Query-Response

In order for your computer to pull up our website, it needs the files that hold our information. To get that, your computer sends a request (such as our web address) to your internet service provider, who carries the request forward to a server. The server then checks its data for the requested URL - if it doesn't find it, it sends that request further up the line to the next server. This request is known as a query.

That process continues until the request hits our server. When our server sees you're requesting the information its hosting, the query stops and response begins. Our server sends the infomation back to you - but not all it once. It breaks the file your requesting (such as this web page) into little pieces called packets and directs them back to your client.

These packets don't all arrive at the same time, and they don't have to follow the same path. They try to follow the shortest path possible for maximum speed. Each one is specially labeled with a header and footer that instructs the requesting device how to put the information together. Your device puts the packets together, interprets the HTML, and up pops whatever page you were looking for. That's pretty much it!

Moving Forward

That's just a tip of the iceberg - the technical details of how the internet works is a vast, complicated topic. The information presented in this series of articles is just the beginning, but it's enough to give you a base of knowledge to understand what's happening behind the scenes. Check back in with us soon for the next article in the series and to learn how search engines, a cornerstone of our user experience, work.

Thanks for reading, and remember to click the links below for other cool articles!


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