How The Internet Works

So you want to know how the internet works? What happens when you click on that link in your browser? The internet may seem complex but it is surprisingly basic and straight-forward in its operation.

Here are some terms that you need to be aware of:-

1. End-Points

The data that you need to access is stored on a PC is called a server. The device with which you will access the data from the server is the client. This could be a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Both these devices are end-points. The ends of the chain that make up the internet.

2. IP Address

Every end-point/server will use a network card to access the internet and a unique address that is called the IP address.

3. Packets

All data over the internet is sent as packets of data. Think of this way, when you click an image, the data that makes up that image is broken up like a puzzle. Each piece is told where it needs to go and when it gets there, where it needs to fit. When the packet arrives at the destination, it will find its spot and settle there, and when the rest of the packets arrive, the puzzle reassembles itself to give you the image that you requested.


Do you find it difficult to remember phone numbers? Trust me, remembering IP address is even worse. The Domain Name system was put in place to solve this problem. It is basically a contact book that keeps track of IP addresses and their associated names. DNS is Domain Name Server, a server that hosts a database of domain names that can be referred to.

For example, can be written as in the address bar.

So we are finished with the basic terms. Let’s get to know what happens when you type a website address:-

  1. Say you typed ‘’  in the address bar.
  2. Your computer translates the data into a request that is sent via a router to your local ISP (Internet Service Provider), which will try to connect a DNS server to know the IP address of ‘’.
  3. The local ISP will have regional ISP above it. The regional ISP will in turn contact a Network Service Provider (NSP) that will contact a Network Access Point (NAP) or IX (Internet Exchange). All these are basically routers. Once the DNS tells the system the IP address that you are looking for, all these routers will try to find that IP address.
  4. Once the addresses are resolved and the server located, your request is finally submitted and the server responds with data.  The data is sent in the form of packets.

So….that’s it. The packets arrive at your client. They are already tagged with the information required to reassemble them and your browser automatically collects and combines the data and interprets it. All these things happens in matter of milliseconds.

So, got an idea how the internet works?

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