An insight into how the internet works

You use the internet all the time. You use it to send emails, post pictures on Instagram, watch YouTube videos, perform online background checks, etc. You’re even using it right now to read this article. But, you’re probably not aware of how it all works, and perhaps more importantly, why it all works. Well, here’s a very brief explanation to get you going.

It all starts with the hardware. In simple terms, hardware is everything you can touch in the real world. That includes the actual PC, the laptop, the router, the wires, etc. Hardware is subsequently divided into a couple different categories. Clients are the end points which ultimately use the internet, and servers are machines which store information on the internet that the clients access. There are also nods, and you can think of them as connection points along the route between servers and clients. Last but not least, we have transmission lines such as fiber optics, regular cables, and of course, wireless signals.

Hardware on its own would be pretty useless though. It would be just a bunch of metal laying around. Here’s where protocols come in. Protocols are sets of rules which machines follow in order to complete certain tasks. Without them, none of the machines would be able to talk to one another. In other words, protocols are machine languages, unifying all machines and giving them means of communicating with one another.

The most important protocols are called the transmission control protocol (or TCP for short), and the Internet protocol (IP for short). That being said, TCP and IP are usually grouped together for the sake of simplicity. In essence, these protocols dictate how information gets sent out throughout the internet. They’re basically internet police, enforcing law and order.

Then we get to IP addresses. Much like regular addresses, these contain information to each individual piece of hardware so that machines are able to effectively communicate with each other in the massive network that is the web. Naturally, they adhere to the internet protocol.

Perhaps the most difficult thing to explain when it comes to how the internet works is the domain name system. This complicated system is comprised of multiple servers and queries, all of which do a specific job. To explain it briefly, every time you type in an address in the URL, for instance, your computer has to convert that information into numbers, send it to the DNS, and get a response. The DNS on the other hand searches its database for the request you’re after and then returns it to you. It’s a bit like asking an employee at the shop to bring you milk. They work there so they know where the milk is. They’ll go get it and bring it to you.


Although we only covered the tip of the iceberg, that’s a rough explanation of how the internet works. If you’d like to learn more, search up on any of the terms we used here and you’ll find plenty of info available online.

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Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.