Easy Guide on How Internet Works

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]nternet stands for inter-networks, or simply, a network of networks. The internet is a network of computer systems that communicate with each other across the globe. It is really vast in the structure and has a very large variety of sub-structures within itself. The networks within the internet can be:

  • private (your household Wi-Fi connection),
  • public (a network in a restaurant or a mall),
  • academic (network in schools),
  • business (available in workplaces) and
  • government controlled (in metros).

The Internet is a medium through which, sharing of information and communication establishment to virtually any corner of the world is possible. This technology has enabled us to reach limits which were unimaginable before. The internet has virtually brought the entire world in our palms.


What Devices Make up The Internet?

Listing all the types of devices that make up the internet will take up the entire article itself. Therefore I shall only discuss the few articles which are essential to the Internet.

  • Router: Router is like the heart of the network. It has the information about the data transmission. It has a table (Routing table) which has entries of incoming and outgoing addresses. The router’s basic job is to link the information piece from a particular incoming address to the corresponding outgoing address according to the routing table.
  • Switch: A switch allows your device to connect to another device within the network. Switches manage the network ports (connections) and maintain security within the network. The main job of the switch is to maintain and secure device connectivity over the internet.
  • Server: Server is actually a computer program, designed to provide some type of service to other computers. People commonly know servers as computers on which these programs install and run. Since the job is to provide a specific service, the name stands as ‘Server’ or the one who serves.’
  • Communication Standards: Communication standards are basic ways in which data communication takes place. It can be wireless (Wi-Fi), Wired (Ethernet), or in most cases the combination of the two. These standards define requirement of devices, amount of speed the customer gets, the security and cost. These factors differentiate between communication standards, enabling us to make a decision.

But How Does it Work?

The primary job of the internet as a whole is to share information and communicate those pieces of information around the globe. A few set of rules emphasize on how communication will happen. We call these rules as ‘protocols.’ Systems within the internet follow these protocols and hence can understand some necessary information regarding communication like:

  • Data’s source.
  • Data’s destination.
  • Way of sending the data.
  • Size/amount of the data.
  • Type of the data.
  • What process does the data belong to?
  • Security encryption
  • Error Detection and Checking mechanism
  • Data compression information
  • Decision of choosing the path to the destination

And many such more information is provided by the protocols. The above list contains simple information, giving a general idea of the communication process. So, the idea is that, the entirety of information is not provided by one protocol, instead by a set of protocols. These set of protocols together, are ‘protocol suites’. The most famous and perhaps the strongest protocol suite created is the ‘TCP-IP’ protocol suite.

An Example

Leaving all these technicalities aside, let us just once see how it actually happens. Consider, you are about to see a web page. So you open your browser, you type in an area which is called as the URL bar. It is in this bar you type the web-page address. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, which actually locates the computer in which the web-page is stored, within the entire world, and brings it to you on your screen. Hence the name, ‘Resource Locator’.

The address in the URL bar also often has ‘https/http’ which stands for HyperText Transfer PROTOCOL (S-Secured), which is the rule being followed. Hypertext is just a text which a link to other texts is present. So, when you type ‘http’ in the URL bar, it is a request to transfer all the hypertext that is present in the address written in the URL bar. Like, if you write ‘https://buddymantra.in’ it means you are asking to transfer all the hypertext from the destination to your computer screen, which gives you access to the web-page.

What is the World Wide Web?

Looking on a larger scale, one cannot ignore ‘WWW’, when it comes to internet. As mentioned earlier, the internet is a network of computer networks and each networks have their own sub-networks (subnet). All the networks, sub-networks, super-networks (a network of some networks), are connected to all other networks. This in turn made the connection structure look like a web. A web, which is present throughout the world, as a result we have the term, World Wide Web (WWW).


This here, is the reason why we have terms like web-page (A page within the web), web-site(A collection of similar pages, forming a site). Basically WWW is the biggest internet network present over all.

However, there is a common misconception among people, that the world-wide web and the internet, both are the same things. Which isn’t true. WWW is the biggest part of the internet, but isn’t the internet in its entirety. The WWW relies on http which is explained earlier, however other services like mail, messaging, streaming are a part of the internet which can be accessed without the WWW.

Example of Internet Use without WWW

Consider, you are using your mobile phone, and using an app to send a mail to someone. You open your app, and you do not need to login (most of the time), as the mobile has you already logged in with your email account. You type in all the details like receiver’s email address(es), the subject, the body, and maybe some type of file attachment.

As you do this the protocol that runs in the background is called as SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol). The name is quite self-explanatory, it gives guidelines on how an electronic mail would be sent, moreover, if you happen to attach a file with the email, it also goes under FTP (File transfer protocol), and both SMTP and FTP work together to communicate the mail to the receiver. Mail is then sent via the internet, as you hit ‘send’. All of this achieved without accessing WWW.

How do Search Engines Work?

We all are familiar to the fact that the internet provides with a multitude of search engines, with Google standing as the biggest of them all. But how do they actually give you all the information you type instantaneously. So as you search something on any search engine, the words you type (in some cases, words you speak) are converted into ‘keywords’ and then they are transmitted to the search engine base. The base have massive amounts of server computers, all storing some kind of information of virtually all topics that are in existence.

The engine now basically focuses on the keywords  you just typed and search any information relative to the keywords you gave. As a result, you get more than a single link to the your search.

How do Internet Clouds Work?

Cloud internet computing is a very new technology in the norms of the internet. Cloud does not mean a physical cloud, but it is also a service which can be public, private or hybrid. Storing and managing your personal data, over an internet server is called cloud computing. Data separation of your data and other users’ data is done via email id accounts. By doing so prevents the hassle of memory management in your personal device. The Cloud service is often used as a backup storage mechanism, where if your data is breached on your device, you can just get it back from the cloud account you have. Microsoft One Drive and Google Drive are example of cloud Services.

The basic working of an internet cloud is very simple. You store some data over the internet, within the data space you are allotted (Google Drive gives 2 GB for an account). This data is linked with your email account and is actually stored in the servers themselves. A set of protocols enables easy accessing of these data.

How Does Social Media Work?

In the internet the biggest trend by far is the invention of the social media. It has brought people as their digital incarnations over the internet, where they interact with each other in form of virtual groups of people, share media information like photos, videos, thoughts and expressions, statuses, and the list goes on endlessly.

Basically in the working, when you create a social media account, your digital version is registered within the servers of the social media service. After this registration, you can by means of various rules designed by the social media service creators, can interact, search, and basically bond with other people already present of the social network. Centralized servers of social networks link these people’s accounts to you.


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