We spend more and more time at the computer or mobile phone, and then we are mostly online. The Internet has become such an important part of our lives that it is almost impossible to go back to the time before this discovery without serious consequences for our society.
It is estimated that two-thirds of people in the world have access to the Internet, and more than half use the Internet every day. It is an astonishing statistic that the average user spends six and a half hours every day on the Internet.
Given this data, it is disappointing that a study shows that only one in three people, who claim to understand how the Internet works, can provide satisfactory answers to basic questions related to the functioning of the Internet. The study also showed that people under the age of thirty understand the Internet better than older people, which is not surprising.
In this article, we will explain how the Internet works and the main concepts related to it. The idea is not to remember all this as if you were going to take an exam but to get a better understanding of the things you spend six and a half hours daily. Is this information really possible ?! It seems absolutely amazing. 🙂
What is the internet?
Simply put, the Internet is a global network of computers and other electronic devices (mobile phones, tablets). Within this network, it is possible to access any information contained within this network. This network works similarly to the post office, which delivers everything from letters, through magazines to packages, but in a split second.
The World Wide Web is a collection of websites that are found on the Internet. When you want to access a website, before the name of the site you type www, which is an abbreviation for the World Wide Web and means that you want to access the site located on this network. This means that there are other networks besides this, but they are mostly used for military or scientific purposes.
Now you are probably wondering how the internet works. The correct and detailed answer is complicated and requires some prior knowledge. We will try not to go into every detail, but we will have to introduce a few terms that we will also clarify.
A very important thing to understand is that the internet is a network of physical cables that includes telephone, TV, and optical cables. Even wireless networks like Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and 5G rely on physical cables to connect to the internet. When you access the website, your computer, through these cables, sends a request to the server, which response to the request by sending the necessary data, also, through these same cables.
What is a server?
A server is a computer on whose hard disk a website is stored and which is programmed so that when it receives a request to send certain data (for example a website page) it responds by sending that data. The computer that serves as a server is always turned on and connected to the Internet, otherwise, the site is not available.
You’ve probably seen a server room in movies, a darkened room filled with cabinets that usually glow in neon blue or green. Don’t let this confuse you. Any computer can serve as a server, and those cabinets have computers stacked in them, and monitors are located in another room, from where these computers are managed. As we know, computers produce noise and heat, so server rooms are made to isolate noise and provide adequate cooling for these computers.
What is a domain name and what is an IP address?
Simply put, if a website is a house, the domain is the address of that house. When we type the address of a website, that address looks like this
mywebsite.com, where mywebsite.com represents the domain on which that site is located.
As we said, the internet is a huge network of computers. Any computer within this network can communicate with all other computers. An IP address is the unique address of each individual computer. A typical IP address looks like this
126.96.36.199. When you type in a website domain, that domain is set to route to a specific IP address, so the server knows where to read or write data from.
The server itself has its own IP address and you can access websites by typing in their IP address, not just using domain names. We use domains because it is easier to remember and because multiple domains can be located on the same IP address. Imagine that every time you want to access a website you have to type a series of random numbers. It is much easier with domains that consist of understandable words.
What is internet browser?
An Internet browser is a program that we use to access websites. Whether we open websites, we use FTP or some other protocol. The main purpose of the browser is that when you access a website, it translates the computer code from which that site consists to text, images and elements that are understandable to humans. Here is a brief overview of how the internet browser works:
- You type in the website address
- The browser locates the server on which the website is located and requests the necessary information
- The browser translates this code and displays the website on the screen
This is a simplified overview of the operation of the internet browser (as well as everything we write about here), but the important thing to remember is that the browser is in charge of translating the code into a website. This means that different browsers can translate this code in different ways and therefore, sometimes, the same website will look different on different browsers.
If you’ve ever wondered why people don’t like Internet Explorer so much, this is the reason. Internet Explorer is notorious for the way it translates the code. It’s extremely slow, and it doesn’t have good support for newer versions of programming languages, especially CSS. That’s why modern websites on Internet Explorer look like they’re from the beginning of the millennium.
What is a search engine?
The search engine is a program used to search the Internet. There are three key steps in how the search engine works, and they are:
- Crawling – search engines use programs called spiders, bots, or crawlers to search the Internet
- Indexing – search engines remember websites whey find
- Ranking – websites are ranked to always offer the user the most relevant sites
We use an Internet search engine to find a website with information that we are interested in. When we type something in a search box on, say, Google, these are keywords and they are used for search. This means that when you type something in the search box, it doesn’t always have to be a meaningful sentence. It is often better to simply type in individual words that describe what you are looking for.
We know that many confuse the Internet browser and the search engine, and the fact that Google has the most popular search engine and browser further complicates matters. We believe this is already clear to you, but let’s be clear: Google Chrome is a browser, while
www.google.com is a search engine, and these are two completely different things.