How the Internet Works

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This is a Beginner's Guide to how the internet works

What is the Internet?
The Internet is a network that enables computers connected to it to share information, resources, and files.

How does the Internet work?
Your computer is connected to a modem. The modem converts the signals from your computer and sends them to your Internet service provider, (ISP). These signals can be sent over telephone lines, through cables, fiber optics, or through radio waves. Your Internet service provider then provides access points for your signal to be put through to the public Internet.

There are many ways that the Internet is used- to find information, get directions, keep in touch, purchase goods or services, or just have fun. When most people think of the Internet they think of the world wide web and surfing through websites. To do this most people use a software which provides an interface, it is called a web browser. A URL (Uniform/Universal Resource Locater) is typed into the address bar of a web browser. http://www.howtointernet.net is a URL. When using a web browser, the program will automatically enter the http:// portion for you. The http:// tells the browser what how to communicate. http:// (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is what the Internet uses for web pages. www. is an addition to the domain name called a sub-domain, it defines a specific area of the domain. Sometimes you may see something other than www. such as store.domain.com. howtointernet.net is called the domain name. This identifies the exact location you wish to visit.

Your computer sends your request through the modem to your Internet Service Provider and out to the Internet for information about the location of the URL and where it can be found. The .com is called the TLD (top level domain), it tells the Internet where the request should be routed to. There are 13 computers called root servers located around the world. These root servers hold the information about every domain name in existence. They tell the Internet where the files for that domain name can be found. Once your computer has the location of where to find the files, it downloads the information to your computer and displays the web page.

Why is some text a different color or underlined?
Some web pages contain text that is underlined and/or in a different color than the rest of the text on the screen. These are used to indicate that if you click on that area with your mouse, you will be taken to another web page (linked to another area), it is called hypertext. When the mouse scrolls over these areas, the pointer will change. Depending on how the link is created, the new web page may replace the one you are currently looking at, or it may open in a second browser window. When hypertext has a double underline, this usually indicates a sponsor link. A sponsor link has a pop-up, (a separate box or browser window that pops open), and links to some place that has paid to advertise on the current web page you are visiting. Images and graphics can also be used as links, called hyperlinks. These act in the same way hypertext does linking you to another area or website.