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How Does the Internet Work?

Hillary Cyril | Editor, TechAnnouncer




The Internet has grown dramatically over the last decade. In fact, it’s growing so fast that many people now don’t even own computers or laptops. They use mobiles like iPhones, Android phones, Blackberrys, and others. Internet usage is increasing so fast that people can already surf the Web on planes, in cars, on buses, in subways, and on boats. In the past few years, the Internet even reached homes with the invention of tablet computers.

The Internet isn’t only convenient for us to use to find information online and do business; it is also convenient for us to download content from the Internet. For instance, if you are searching the Internet for videos of the local football games, then you would type in the word “watch football highlights.” At the very least, your computer will send a request for a video from the local TV station to the various websites that have streaming content to provide. That request gets sent over the network to the servers where the internet works to provide the video to the viewer. The server makes a data packet that contains all the details about the requestor’s computer system to the remote website.

When the webserver receives these data packets, it parses the data packets into their own format, converts them back into their original form, then sends them on their way. Each time the user types in a word or key combination onto the keyboard or clicks a mouse button, the requestor’s IP address is sent over the network to the right place on the Internet. The data packets eventually reach their destination through the network, where they are received and converted back into normal data packets. This process keeps happening until the user requests another chunk of data. If the user doesn’t get his or her request met within a reasonable amount of time, the web server sends an “abort” signal.


With the billions of daily internet users, keeping track of the ever-changing information environment on the Internet requires advanced surveillance equipment. To make things more difficult, your computer network probably isn’t set up to receive and sort the different types of data packets that come through your router or network card. Without specialized IP tracking equipment, you’re left guessing what to do with the untargeted bits of data that come through. You can’t be sure that the data that’s flowing through is being used and that it’s not wasting bandwidth. If you’re in a position to observe a problem, before it becomes severe enough to warrant intervention by a network administrator, it’s critical to first understand how the whole internetwork happens.

Every web page that you view through your web browser makes a request to the local internet server. At the very least, the local internet server performs the standard I/O operations, like receiving the data packets and converting them into words and numbers, and then putting together an HTML (hypertext markup language) to tell you what you want to see. The internet also includes a transport control protocol (TCP), which decides how many data packets can be sent over a given connection. The TCP connection that is used for the web browser to see web pages is called a TCP/IP connection.

A lot of different factors go into determining the rate at which data packets are sent over an Internet connection. Some of those factors depend on the type of internet protocol that is being used, and some depend on the destination site. Certain sites require more data packets to be delivered within a certain time frame, while other sites can handle the traffic that is burst during certain times of the day. The IP client and server, which connects to the internet, also take up space on your hard drive. It’s important to know how much space is going to be used on your computer as this will affect the rate at which you download and upload data.

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