How Does the Internet Work?

 The interactive picture on the right shows you basically how the "Internet", or more specifically the World Wide Web, is configured.

All computers with Internet access go through some sort of Internet service provider (ISP) to access the web. When you type an Internet Address, or Domain Name in your web browser, your request goes out over thousands of miles of cable, airwaves, and optical fiber until it reaches a computer in the Domain Name System, or DNS (see diagram). There are lots of DNS computers all over the world and they all keep up with the millions of web domain names worldwide.

The DNS is like a master library of Internet addresses, or web domain names. The DNS looks up the domain name which has the web page you requested and turns it into an Internet Protocol Address, or IP number. These IP numbers are the actual numeric addresses of all computers on the Web, even yours. Every computer on the web has an IP address.

The DNS computer sends your request back to your computer with the "resolved" IP address. Your computer is then able to sent your request out onto the Internet with the IP address of the web site you are looking for. If you requested a web page, then the computer with that IP address is probably a Web Server. If the web server serves lots of different web sites, then it is refered to as a Web Server Host (see diagram).

The Web Server responds to your request by sending out a copy of the web page you requested, addressing it to your computer's IP address. Again, the response floats around on the Internet for a few microseconds until your ISP sees it, whereupon it grabs the response and sends it on to your computer.

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