How does the Internet Work?
You may never have used the Internet. Or you may only have used it a few times. Still, these days, it’s almost impossible to avoid hearing about the Internet and all of the buzz words that are associated with it. “Email me”! “Find me on Facebook”! “Are you on MSN?”… Google, Yahoo! AOL! What does it all mean and how does it work?
The Internet is made up of millions of networked computers (called servers) in locations all over the world. These servers house (or store) web sites, data and all types of information. Internet technology gives us the ability to visit any server connected to the Internet, in any location in the world, and view its web sites, data and any other information that the owner of the server allows.
Much of the language used to describe the Internet and what goes on there mimics real-world language and concepts. When an email is sent, it is sent in packages to what we call an (IP) address and it has an envelope that states where the message is going and where it came from. That doesn’t sound too complicated, does it?
Again, all of the information found on the Internet is held on computers called servers. You can think of a server as a house (a place where data is stored) or even as the place where a web site lives. Every server has a completely unique address, as does a house in the real world. A server address is known as an IP address.
If you were inviting a friend to visit your home, you would give them the address of your home. Since your address is completely unique, they would find you. In the Internet world, your web site address (also called a Domain Name) is 100% unique. It is connected to an IP address that is also completely unique. Therefore when you want someone to find and visit your web site, you give them your domain name.
Another way that people can find your web site on the Internet is by searching for it on a search engine. A search engine is basically like a Yellow pages or a directory. A search engine does not necessarily require an exact name or address to give results. You can find a business simply by describing it, or what it does and the city that business is in.
All data and information that is sent back and forth throughout the Internet is relayed through routers that send the information from point to point; checking the envelope and forwarding it on to its final destination (the specified IP address). As Internet technology continues to improve, this is becoming an increasingly speedy process; often a matter of seconds.
So, there you have it! For all intents and purposes, the Internet is nothing more than an electronic/digital imitation of the real-world postal system.