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Question   How does the Internet work?
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How does the Internet work?
You turn on your computer, fire up your browser, and surf the web. But what's really going on here? Perhaps this article can help.

  • A network is a group of computers that are connected and can communicate with one another.
  • "The Internet" is a worldwide network of computers, connected by TCP/IP.
  • TCP/IP is a protocol that all of the computers understand. It's an agreement about how the computers exchange information.
  • All computers connected to the Internet have an IP address consisting of four numbers separated by periods (for example:
  • To make addresses easier for humans to remember, DNS (domain name service) associates domain names like www.yourdomain.com with the numeric address of the computer where that domain is hosted.
  • When you type in a domain name, your computer requests web page files from the address of the computer where the files are located. These files are sent to your computer, and displayed in your browser.
This is how it works:

  1. You build your web pages on your computer.
  2. You then upload them to your account on DreamHost's servers. [what does upload mean?]
  3. Your visitor types in your web address on their computer. This sends a request for your web page files to the computer where they are located (ie; our servers).
  4. In response, our servers send copies of your files to your visitor's computer. This makes your page appear on their screen.

Last updated: Jan 16, 2003.