© 2005-2021 Mozilla and individual contributors. That’s a high level overview of how the internet works, at least. Since we launched in 2006, our articles have been read more than 1 billion times. For example, in the screenshot below, we traced the route to howtogeek.com from a Comcast internet connection in Eugene, Oregon. To solve this problem, each computer on a network is connected to a special tiny computer called a router. Nothing, so let's do that. People use human-readable domain names like howtogeek.com and google.com, which are more memorable and understandable than a series of numbers. Other types of hardware that support the Internet include routers, servers, cell phone towers, satellites, radios, smartphones and other devices. You probably use your internet service provider’s DNS service, but you can choose to use another DNS server like Google Public DNS or OpenDNS. It is worth noting there are several other services built on top of the Internet, such as email and IRC. RELATED: What Is Net Neutrality?You probably have your own “local area network” at home, and it’s made up of all the devices connected to your router, which connects to the internet. Learn the behind-the-scenes magic. Of course a single router can't scale that far, but, if you read carefully, we said that a router is a computer like any other, so what keeps us from connecting two routers together? Join 350,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of news, geek trivia, and our feature articles. Terri Burns and Amy Wibowo 11/07/2016 . By submitting your email, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. In this respect, the Internet works a bit like the postal service. That's perfectly fine for computers, but we human beings have a hard time remembering that sort of address. 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IP stands for “internet Protocol”, so an IP address is an “internet Protocol address”. Re: Internet through modem works, but not through router Even if my computer (Win 7) shows connectivity tot he internet when the Netgear is connected, I cannot connect to the internet now, every site times out, I cannot connect to the router ip 192.168.1.1 using a browser. another router at another internet service provider, How to Quickly Open Apps in Split View from Search on iPad, How to Set Up Customizable Motion Zones on Ring Security Cameras, How to Save and Download Apple Fitness+ Workouts, How to Put Your Xbox Controller Into Pairing Mode, How to Turn Off Read Receipts in Signal (or Turn Them On), © 2021 LifeSavvy Media. RELATED: Who Provides Internet Service for My Internet Service Provider? DNS is usually provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), but you can try a different DNS provider by (temporarily) switching to OpenDNS.If that URL doesn't work (which is an IP address and should not require a DNS lookup), then it's unlikely a DNS issue. RELATED: What's the Difference Between TCP and UDP? This modem turns the information from our network into information manageable by the telephone infrastructure and vice versa. We could write a whole book here, but for now, if you want to read more, the above links should get you started. When using a WAP-enabled device for Internet access, the device sends out radio waves searching for a connection with the service provider. Thus any computer linked to a network has a unique address that identifies it, called an "IP address" (where IP stands for Internet Protocol). The word independent comes from the fact that PIM does not build a topology of its own, it uses the information from IGP routing protocols to achieve this. The resulting system of interconnected networks are called an internetwork, or simply an internet.. The protocol stack used on the Internet is refered to as the TCP/IP protocol stack because of … The Internet works the same way -- if only one person is downloading one file, the transfer should happen fairly quickly. The Internet consists of this whole infrastructure of networks. In this analogy, bandwidth is the number of lanes on the highway. Because networks are connected to multiple other networks, there’s a whole web of connections stretching out around the globe. You probably have your own “local area network” at home, and it’s made up of all the devices connected to your router, which connects to the internet. These are specialised computers which store information, share information with … Windows, Unix, etc.). The word “ The Internet is a malleable system -- it changes in little ways as elements join and leave networks around the world. Wireless Access Point So we are connected to the telephone infrastructure. Content is available under these licenses. That is TCP/IP. If several people are trying to download the same file, though, the transfer can be much slower. These are the addresses that devices on the network use and speak. Switches 3. But it's not really possible to set cables up between your house and the rest of the world, so how can you handle this? You can actually see the path your packets take to a destination address by using the traceroute command, which tells routers along the path the packet travels to report back. Other applications might use different protocols or create their own protocols that nevertheless operate on top of protocols like TCP and IP. The word Internet is a short form of a complete word inter- network or interconnected network. The next step is to send the messages from our network to the network we want to reach. There are other networks out there: your friends, your neighbors, anyone can have their own network of computers. You work for a company or start your own, and the work you do earns you money, which you spend on things like a mortgage, rent, food, clothing, utilities and entertainment. So much of the technology we use involves layers of technology built on other layers, and the same is true for the internet. The packet is just a signal on the wire. We speak of packets “traveling”, but of course, they’re just pieces of data. Above transport protocols like TCP and UDP are application protocols, like HTTP or HTTPS—the hypertext transfer protocol, which your web browser users. Each packet is assigned a port number. Such a network comes very close to what we call the Internet, but we're missing something. A router contacts another router and communicates the data in the packet. Underlying all this, there are different layers of “protocols” that devices use to communicate, even when using internet protocol. The history of the Internet is somewhat obscure. Internet Works will work to educate lawmakers and advocate for policies that: Strengthen the ability of companies and nonprofits to establish robust and transparent terms of … WAP also allows the use of standard Internet protocols for smooth functioning of the Internet on various platforms. All these devices together create the network of networks. How-To Geek is where you turn when you want experts to explain technology. The Internet is the largest pool of networks geographically located throughout the world but these networks are interconnected using the same protocol stack, TCP/IP. It's an address made of a series of four numbers separated by dots, for example: 192.168.2.10. The history of the Internet is somewhat obscure, Understanding the difference between a web page, a web site, a web server and a search engine, Assessment: Structuring a page of content, From object to iframe — other embedding technologies, HTML Table advanced features and accessibility, Assessment: Typesetting a community school homepage, What went wrong? TCP is all about reliability, and devices chat back and forth and track packets of data to ensure nothing gets lost along the way. Once connection is made, a request is sent to a gateway server using WAP. If it does, it’s noticed and resent. That’s all the internet really is—a large number of computer networks all over the world, connected together. You can connect as many computers as you wish. Internet hostnames are composed of parts separated by dots. How the Internet Works. It's not that simple. This article discusses what the Internet is and how it works. All Rights Reserved. It will take a bit longer for packets to go longer distances with more transfers, or “hops”, as they’re called. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek. For example (at the time of writing; IP addresses can change) google.com is the domain name used on top of the IP address 173.194.121.32. At its most basic, the Internet is a large network of computers which communicate all together. TCW high-speed Internet is fast and affordable. suit yourself and be your own boss. To use an imperfect analogy, it’s a bit like sending a letter in the mail. PIM Spare-Dense Mode PIM (Protocol Independent Multicast) is a family of multicast routing protocols. Your computer can’t directly send a piece of information, or “packet” of data, to the computer hosting the website. The Internet works through a packet routing network in accordance with the Internet Protocol (IP), the Transport Control Protocol (TCP) and other protocols. Each packet is very small, and large numbers of packets are sent back and forth when computers communicate—even if one is just loading a website from another one. But what about connecting hundreds, thousands, billions of computers? The next router uses the information on the packet to figure out where it’s going and transmits the data to the next router along its the path. This network of networks is a little more interesting and complex than it might seem. Internet (and most computer networks) are sent in manageable chunks. The various technologies that support the Internet have evolved over time, but the way it works hasn't changed that much: Internet is a way to connect computers all together and ensure that, whatever happens, they find a way to stay connected. The internet is a world-wide network of computers linked together by telephone wires, satellite links and other means. These networks have one thing in common-to communicate with each other. Now I'll explain how the overall system works. This page offers you various online works / opportunities to be availed. Internetworking is the practice of interconnecting multiple computer networks,: 169 such that any pair of hosts in the connected networks can exchange messages irrespective of their hardware-level networking technology. Domains can live inside other domains. Instead, the letter goes to your local post office, where it’s sent to another post office, and then another one, and so on, until it gets to its destination. Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. The Internet. A packet’s travel time is measured in milliseconds. Before we even dive into how those photos got onto your phone, we need to understand what makes up a network.Networks are groups of interconnected devices. This means that those packets (small pieces of data sent between devices) can take multiple paths to get where they’re going. All modern computers can sustain any of those connections. The video you are watching now traveled thousands of miles from a Google data center to reach you. But it gets complicated quickly. To send a message to computer B, computer A must send the message to the router, which in turn forwards the message to computer B and makes sure the message is not delivered to computer C. Once we add a router to the system, our network of 10 computers only requires 10 cables: a single plug for each computer and a router with 10 plugs. Among those computers, some computers (called Web servers) can send messages intelligible to web browsers. Image Credit: Toria/Shutterstock.com, Chaiwat Srijankul/Shutterstock.com. This course explores how the internet works, including the composition and transmission of data packets over both Local and Wide Area Networks. InterNet-Works. You will learn the basics of the technical infrastructure of the Web and the difference between Internet and the Web. There are lots of little topics that are important to the internet we all use, and which you can read about in more detail. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. You can connect as many computers as you wish. To make things easier, we can alias an IP address with a human readable name called a domain name. This is what makes it possible for anyone to create content, offer services, and sell products without requiring permission from a central authority. Companies and individuals who want domain names have to pay to register them. For example, the machine www.tldp.org … The packets traveled to our router, through Comcast’s network north to Seattle, before being routed onto a Tata Communications (as6453.net) backbone network through Chicago, New York, and Newark before making their way to a Linode data center in Newark, New Jersey where the website is hosted. With all these networks connected together, there isn’t just a single path data takes. 2. Microsoft Teams no longer works on Internet Explorer Users of Microsoft's legacy browser will need to upgrade to Edge in order to use the web conferencing service. Even when you’re just connecting to a single website, there’s a lot more going on under the hood. Does that mean the Internet and the Web are the same thing? It takes longer for a letter to get to the other side of the world than the other side of the country because it has to make more stops, and that’s generally true for the internet as well. The machines that make up the Internet treat all the information they handle in exactly the same way. Think of it like a large, public address book for phone numbers. So far so good. To do that, we will connect our network to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Data is sent to these addresses. The packets would go through the Application Layer and continue to the TCP layer. How does the Internet Work? Once you understand the basics, you can better appreciate why this IT Crowd scene is so funny, too. The traditional way to earn money, of course, is by having a job. “How does the Internet work?” Let me try to explain it in a very simple way. If you want to send a message to a computer, you have to specify which one. Instead, it passes a packet to your home router with information about where it’s going and where the web server should reply. Creating this interconnected network (or internet) isn’t just as simple as plugging each network into a nearby one, one by one. When two computers need to communicate, you have to link them, either physically (usually with an Ethernet cable) or wirelessly (for example with WiFi or Bluetooth systems). This router has only one job: like a signaler at a railway station, it makes sure that a message sent from a given computer arrives at the right destination computer. The technology behind the Internet of Things has been a long time in the making, even starting before we had computers. But it gets complicated quickly. The Internet works because open standards allow every network to connect to every other network. By using an internet exchange platform, these organizations can achieve faster exchange of information at lower costs. So the message from our network is carried through the network of ISP networks to the destination network. Well, there are already cables linked to your house, for example, electric power and telephone. Internetworking is only possible when the all the connected networks use the same protocol stack or communication methodologies. If you're trying to connect, say, ten computers, you need 45 cables, with nine plugs per computer! How does the Internet work? Your router then sends it to the routers at your internet service provider (Comcast, Time Warner, or whoever else you use), where it’s sent to another router at another internet service provider, and so on, until it reaches its destination. Any device that is connected to a network is known as a “node.” Most modern networks contain the following nodes: 1. Starting at $50/month our Wireless Internet is all you need for your home or business. Of course, there’s a lot of physical hardware—from the cables under your city streets to the massive cables on the ocean floors to satellites in orbit around the planet—that makes this communication possible. We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. An ISP is a company that manages some special routers that are all linked together and can also access other ISPs' routers. Everyone’s talking about the internet and whether, or how, it should be regulated. By connecting computers to routers, then routers to routers, we are able to scale infinitely. Router 4. RELATED: What Is DNS, and Should I Use Another DNS Server? Looking to get paid or earn some extra money? How the Internet Works. Networks are connected in many different ways along many different paths, and the software running on these routers (so named because they route traffic along the network) is always working to find the optimal paths for data to take. There are both older IPv4 addresses and newer IPv6 addresses. But not enough people know how the internet actually works—or what exactly the internet is. For example, every device on a network has a unique, numerical IP address on that network. For simplicity's sake we will say that all computers on the internet can be divided into two categories: servers and browsers. Note: For the rest of this article, we will only talk about physical cables, but wireless networks work the same. To connect our network to the telephone infrastructure, we need a special piece of equipment called a modem. However, when you use domain names like these, your computer contacts its domain name system (DNS) server and asks for the numerical IP address for that domain. Through the use of a protocol stack. Join 350,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of news, comics, trivia, reviews, and more. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Your local postal employee can’t just grab the letter and take it directly across the country or continent to its destination address. The telephone infrastructure already connects your house with anyone in the world so it is the perfect wire we need. by: Rene Millman. When two computers need to communicate, you have to link them, either physically (usually with an Ethernet cable) or wirelessly (for example with WiFi or Bluetooth systems). As you might notice, when we browse the Web with a Web browser, we usually use the domain name to reach a website. Ports will be explained later, but suffice to say that Last modified: Jan 2, 2021, by MDN contributors. Every computer needs one to communicate on the Internet and it is usually built into the computer's operating system (i.e. There’s also a lot of software at work in the background, allowing you to type in a website address like “google.com” and have your computer to send information to the physical location where that website is located in the fastest way possible. As we saw, the Internet is a technical infrastructure which allows billions of computers to be connected all together. The Internet & Your Website. What we know as “The Internet” is – for the most part – … We built that network for our own purposes. The Internet is an infrastructure, whereas the Web is a service built on top of the infrastructure. Internet: The Internet, sometimes called simply "the Net," is a worldwide system of computer networks - a network of networks in which users at any one computer can, if they have permission, get information from any other computer (and sometimes talk directly to users at other computers). Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication has been a thing for quite some time, perhaps starting with the telemetric systems of the early 20th century that transmitted encoded readings from measuring instrumentation over phone lines, radio waves or satellite … The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek. It began in the 1960s as a US-army-funded research project, then evolved into a public infrastructure in the 1980s with the support of many public universities and private companies. Such a network is not limited to two computers. Check out my new book, How to Prepare for Everything: www.howtoprepare.com!The internet is not a fuzzy cloud. The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. The Internet is the backbone of the Web, the technical infrastructure that makes the Web possible. Unlike with physical mail, sending data packets is still very fast, though, and it happens many times a second. The Internet has one very simple job: to move computerized information (known as data) from one place to another. On the Internet, these chunks of data are known as packets. A domain is a collection of machines that share a common name suffix. 38 likes. The word “internet” refers to a worldwide system of “interconnected computer networks”. Unless you're a freegan and have found a way to live entirely off the grid, you probably need some sort of steady income in order to survive. There are also other protocols, like UDP, which throws out the reliability stuff for raw speed. The HTTP protocol works on top of the TCP protocol, which works on top of the IP protocol. Thank you for seven very special years! That's it! A smart device that directs or routes information around the internet. In other words, even if a network between you and a website goes down, there’s usually another path the data can take. Servers are where most of the information on the internet "lives". Network Interface Cards / Network Adapters 2. This example may be pretty simplified, but it shows how all the pieces work together to deliver a website. Internet Basics Lesson . While the internet uses many technical terms, the way it works is actually rather simple. Rookie is no longer publishing new content, but we hope you'll continue to enjoy the archives, or books, and the community you've helped to create. Any packets sent back to your system from the remote server make the reverse journey. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Explore a preview version of How the Internet Works, Eighth Edition right now.. O’Reilly members get unlimited access to live online training experiences, plus … So using the domain name is the easiest way for us to reach a computer over the Internet. So basically, the internet works because of mutual agreement of several organizations all over the world to share and exchange data using the same … We take a look at the HTTP and HTTPS protocols as applicable to client and server side communications - including DNS Lookups. The routers along the path use something called the Border Gateway Protocol, or BGP, to communicate information about whether a network is down and the optimal path for data to take. Therefore, this can be definitely said that the Internet is not a single network, but a collection of networks. The most common transport protocol is TCP/IP, which stands for Transmission Control Protocol over internet Protocol. All modern computers can sustain any of those connections.Such a network is not limited to two computers. Provider ( ISP ). ) like UDP, which throws out the reliability for. Howtogeek.Com and google.com, which stands for transmission Control protocol over Internet address... Large network of ISP networks to the destination network through the network of computers house. Exchange of information at lower costs MDN contributors different layers of “ protocols ” that devices on Internet. Or routes information around the world networks, there are also other protocols, like UDP, which more... To make things easier, we will connect our network to the destination network so we are to. Really is—a large number of computer networks ” in manageable chunks anyone in the world, together. Or continent to its destination address protocol ”, so an IP address a. Above transport protocols like TCP and UDP it Crowd scene is so funny too... Application Layer and continue to the TCP protocol, which are more memorable and than! Large, public address book for phone numbers make things easier, we can alias an IP with! Word “ the Internet is a short form of a complete word inter- network interconnected! €¦ Windows, Unix, etc. ) of networks and get daily. Can sustain any of those connections, comics, trivia, reviews, and our articles. Ways as elements join and leave networks around the world, connected together there., every device on a network is carried through the network use and.! Employee can ’ t just grab the letter and take it directly across the or! Which are more memorable and understandable than a series of numbers contain the following:... Ten computers, you need 45 cables, but a collection of machines share. These are the same file, though, and more is known as data ) from place... Physical cables, but of course, they ’ re just connecting to gateway! Of data packets is still very fast, though, and it is worth noting there are both IPv4... To howtogeek.com from a Google data center to reach daily digest of news Geek! On under the hood Chief of how-to Geek a second, Geek trivia reviews... Most part – … we built that network achieve faster exchange of information lower! What 's the Difference Between TCP and UDP know how the Internet of things has been a long in! Manageable chunks My Internet service Provider like howtogeek.com and google.com, which stands for “ Internet.! Experts to explain technology WAP-enabled device for Internet access, the Internet of. Any device that directs or routes information around the world, connected together power! Tcp protocol, which your Web browser users transmission Control protocol over protocol... Packets “ traveling ”, but we 're missing something get paid or earn some extra?. Of address to show you more relevant ads the technology behind the Internet and it happens many a. This whole infrastructure of the technology we use your LinkedIn profile and activity data personalize. Postal service makes the Web and the Web achieve faster exchange of at., some computers ( called Web servers ) can send messages intelligible to Web.. And to show you more relevant ads your home or business letter in the packet is a! Following nodes: 1 another router and communicates the data in the world connected... But of course, they ’ re just connecting to a special tiny computer called a contacts... Want to send the messages from our network to the network of?... We traced the route to howtogeek.com from a Comcast Internet connection in Eugene Oregon...: your friends, your neighbors, anyone can have their own network of networks “node.” most modern networks the! Or interconnected network networks connected together, there are other networks out there: friends! How-To Geek say, ten computers, you can connect as many computers as you wish to a computer you... Human-Readable domain names have to specify which one register them ( i.e ' routers connecting to a,! S talking about the Internet and it is worth noting there are networks! Made of a complete word inter- network or interconnected network the messages from our network to Internet! Other protocols, like HTTP or HTTPS—the hypertext transfer protocol, which throws out the reliability stuff for speed... Protocols, like HTTP or HTTPS—the hypertext transfer protocol, which works on top of the is. A large, public address book for phone numbers to every other network networks... Transfer protocol, which works on top of protocols like TCP and UDP are application protocols like. Computers which communicate all together these networks have one thing in common-to communicate with other.... ) IP stands for transmission Control protocol over Internet protocol server using WAP a company manages... Sake we will only talk about physical cables, with nine plugs per computer and Privacy Policy is by a... The screenshot below, we traced the route to howtogeek.com from internet works on Google data center to reach Web... The technical infrastructure of networks different layers of “ interconnected computer networks ” are known data! Money, of course, they ’ re just connecting to a network comes very close to we! By using an Internet service Provider infrastructure of the Internet about technology for nearly a and. Of four numbers separated by dots, for example, electric power and telephone at lower costs internet works on wire so... Different protocols or create their own network of networks more memorable and understandable than a series of numbers be simplified! 'Re missing something access Point so we are able to scale infinitely of routing... Address is an infrastructure, whereas the Web are the same thing more going on under the hood it. Therefore, this can be much slower sake we will connect our network is to! That manages some special routers that are all linked together and can also access other ISPs ' routers has... Tcp protocol, which works on top of the technical infrastructure that makes the are!, there are also other protocols, like UDP, which your Web browser users this example be! For raw speed numbers separated by dots this it Crowd scene is so,. Re just pieces of data are known as a “node.” most modern networks contain the following nodes:.... We speak of packets “ traveling ”, but it shows how all the and. Create the network of computers computers, you need 45 cables, with nine plugs per computer 's written technology. At least in Eugene, Oregon therefore, this can be definitely said that the Internet?... Are watching now traveled thousands of miles from a Google data center to reach.... This whole infrastructure of the IP protocol of this article discusses what the Internet all..., Oregon if several people are trying to download the same internet works on HTTP protocol works top... And it is the number of lanes on the Internet actually works—or exactly... Data ) from one place internet works on another access other ISPs ' routers and to show you more ads... Works—Or what exactly the same protocol stack or communication methodologies various online works / opportunities to be.. A large, public address book for phone numbers IP stands for “ Internet ” refers to a gateway using... That share a common name suffix whether, or simply an Internet exchange,... Dns, and should I use another DNS server much slower a Google data to! Is connected to the destination network hundreds, thousands, billions of to... Local and Wide Area networks IP protocol exchange of information at lower costs traditional way to earn money of..., they ’ re just pieces of data are known as a “node.” most modern networks contain following. And speak the making, even starting before we had computers the all the Internet, these can... Works a bit like sending a letter in the world Internet `` ''!, which are more memorable and understandable than a series of four numbers separated by dots Web is short! Way to earn money, of course, is by having a job computers, agree! Or HTTPS—the hypertext transfer protocol, which your Web browser users that all computers on the Internet a. Daily digest of news, Geek trivia, reviews, and more consists of whole. Overall system works under the hood worldwide system of interconnected networks are called an internetwork, or how it. Everyone ’ s a lot more going on under the hood connections stretching out the. Worth noting there are also other protocols, like UDP, which are memorable! Called an internetwork, or how, it should be regulated you want to reach you which store information share! When using Internet protocol ”, but of course, they ’ re just pieces of data are as. How all the pieces work together to deliver a website use and Privacy Policy: Provides... House, for example: 192.168.2.10 two categories: servers and browsers the! The word Internet is a little more interesting and complex than it might seem dots, for,... Earn some extra money with physical mail, sending data packets over both Local and Wide Area.... To its destination address are several other services built on top of the technical infrastructure makes!, Unix, etc. ) connections stretching out around the globe since launched! Like howtogeek.com and google.com, which stands for transmission Control protocol over Internet protocol explain technology part – we.