Simplified Explanation of How the Internet Works

Simplified Explanation of How the Internet Works

Simplified Explanation of How the Internet Works

Simplified Explanation of How the Internet Works

Introduction to How the Internet works

As a small business owner have you ever wondered how the Internet works? You go online to read your emails, buy some stuff, do research, and much more. By knowing how the Internet works you will gain new perspectives and find ways to further capitalize on the power of the Internet/Web to further improve and grow your small business.

Fortunately, how the Internet Works conceptually is incredibly simple. The Internet is a global network of millions of computers that that basically moves data from one computer to another. On the other hand, the World Wide Web or Web is every bit of “organized” information that can be accessed via the Internet using a web browser. Although the words Internet and Web are used interchangeably, they are technically not the same thing. Read more about that in our blog post “What Small Business Owners Need to Know About the Internet?” – click here. In addition, this blog post also provides you with a brief history of the Internet. You can also find Internet and Web Terminology defined in the blogpost “Common Internet and Web Terms Defined for Small Businesses” – click here.

As you well know, the combination of the Internet and Web allows you to do many things online. So, for simplicity, we will only look at one aspect of how the Internet works and that is viewing a html Web Page. Say you have a website for your small business such as https://www.serenitydayspawilmington.com, what happens behind the scenes to display your website on someone’s computer?


Steps needed to Display a HTML Webpage in a Browser

The simplified steps needed to display a HTML Webpage in a Browser, as an example of how the Internet Works, is outlined below. Furthermore, some terms are defined, and comments are added to provide additional useful information to the small business owner.

Step 1: Load Browser Application and Enter URL

The browser is program/application (e.g. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera Web Browser, etc.) that allows someone to access your website. The user interface (UI) is the browser wrapper that that includes the address bar, buttons (reload page, back, forward, minimize, etc.) and more. Someone can find your website by searching Google and click on a link, or entering your website address https://www.serenitydayspawilmington.com (Uniform Resource Locator- URL) in the address bar. The URL includes:

  •  https: The first part of the URL indicates which protocol the browser must use in this case https (Secure Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) and ends with ://. Although the protocol for websites is generally http or https, browsers also know how to handle other protocols such as mailto: (to open a mail client) or ftp: (to handle file transfer).
  • www: The www. is the optional sub domain. Most web pages start with www (World Wide Web) but it can be any other name such as store.serenitydayspawilmington.com. Therefore, you can use a single domain to set up multiple full-blown websites.
  • serenitydayspawilmington.com is the domain name and includes both the name you selected for your website e.g. serenitydayspawilmington and the top-level domain (TDL) .com. The sub-domain together with the domain name e.g www.serenitydayspawilmington.com is referred to as the Host or Hostname.

Step 2: Browser Determines IP Address Opening Up a Socket Connection

The browser needs to find out on what computer your website is hosted. Using the “phonebook” of the Internet the Domain Name System (DNS), the browser looks up the IP address of the web server (computer) where https://www.serenitydayspawilmington.com is hosted and find the IP Address to be 23.229.227.135. Once the IP Address is retrieved, the browser attempts to connect to the web server by opening a socket connection. Note: The computer or smartphone the person used to open the browser also have a unique IP Address. Therefore, the result is that the connection between two computers on the Internet had been established.

Step 3 Browser sends Webpage and Resource Requests to the Web Server

The opened connection allows the browser to communicate with the web server and send the webpage and resource requests using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Also referred to as HTTP requests. Note: Several HTTP requests are made, see Step 5,

Step 4. Web Server Responds and Sends Requested Files.

Based on the HTTP request to the web server sends a HTTP response to the browser. The HTTP responses from the web server include the HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), JavaScript, CSS, and other content files necessary to display the requested web page. Note: Several HTTP Responses are made, see Step 5, before the browser are able to display the webpage of your business.

Step 5. Web Browser Creates and Displays the Web Page

The initial the response from the webhost is the HTML document of the requested webpage https://www.serenitydayspawilmington.com which is just a text file. However, the website of Serenity Day Spa includes additional resources such as images, CSS, and JavaScript before it can be displayed in a web browser. The browser, therefore, reads the HTML file and determines the resources needed (parsing). The web browser then requests each of those resource files from the webserver (back to steps 3 & 4) and downloads the files. Once the web browser has the required resources, it can start building the page. Finally, the browser rendering engine turns the coded HTML into the text, videos, images, etc., and display the webpage for https://www.serenitydayspawilmington.com/.

Note: By default, the browser will display the homepage (index page). However, when someone clicks MASSAGE on the main menu of the website, the whole process is repeated and the page https://www.serenitydayspawilmington.com/massage-therapy-treatment-wilmington.php is displayed. Typing https://www.serenitydayspawilmington.com/massage-therapy-treatment-wilmington.php in the address bar of the browser will also result in the same outcome. You might have noticed the file extension PHP and not HTML. PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is an open source general-purpose scripting language that can be embedded into HTML. In other words, in addition to CSS and JavaScript you also have PHP commands inserted within the HTML code.

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