How Does the Internet Work?

The Internet is really just a giant wire. It connects every computer in the world (with Internet access) to each other. Two computers in entirely different corners of the world can communicate and transfer data back and forth through the Internet.

Some of these computers attached to the Internet have a very special job. They have to be online 24/7 ready to serve you all of the data and the files that you are requesting when you try to access websites. These computers that are doing that job are called servers. A computer that an everyday user uses to access the Internet is called a client.

Internet Service Provider (ISP): the company you pay to get access to the Internet. In the US, for example, this would be companies like Comcast & AT&T

DNS Server: responsible for translating domain names to numeric IP addresses; Domain Name System Server

IP address: postal address for your computer; every single computer connected to the Internet has an IP address

Internet Backbone: underwater cables that connect across the world that power the Internet

  1. Client requests a website (ex. https://google.com)
  2. Browser sends a message to ISP
  3. ISP relays request to a DNS Server
  4. DNS Server looks up website’s IP address in its database (216.58.210.46)
  5. DNS Server finds the IP address & sends it back to browser
  6. Now knowing the exact address, the client makes a direct request to the address through the ISP
  7. Request goes through ISP then through Internet Backbone and ends up at the Server that is located at the IP address
  8. Server sends all of the files back to client through the Internet Backbone and ISP

Type this IP address into your browser (216.58.210.46) and the browser will serve up the Google Home page.

Internet backbone - Wikipedia
The Internet Backbone’s wires literally span across the entire globe, hidden underwater