What is the Internet

The Internet is a giant network of computers communicating with each other. Your computer connects to the Internet through a system of computers at your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The Internet Service Provider connects to other networks of computers to provide you with access to the Internet.

How the Internet Process Works

This is a very basic, simplified explanation of how the Internet works.

First of all there’s your computer. You have to have signed up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to gain access to the Internet. The connection can be through dial-up (your computer dials a phone number to access the Internet), cable (your Internet connection is provided by your cablevision company and is connected at all times) or ADSL (your computer uses the phone line and is connected to the internet at all times).

When you choose a website to visit the request goes to your ISP’s computer network. It sends out your request to the next computer in the system of the Internet structure. Your request could travel all the way around the world to find the website you are looking for.

Once the website has been found, the location information is sent back through the Internet structure to your ISP then to your computer’s browser.

In an ideal situation this whole process is instantaneous.

How fast you get to the website will depend on:

  • How you connect to the Internet.

    Dial-up will be the slowest. Cable is affected by the number of computers in the neighbourhood are on the same line.

  • Your computer.

    If your computer is low on memory, the disk is full, you have too many programs and/or documents open or a poorly maintained computer the computer has to work harder to present the web page in the browser.

  • Your ISP’s system.

    The ISP’s system of computers may have an internal problem that slows down the process of searching the Internet for the site you requested.

  • If the Internet structure computers and other hardware are not all working to their full capacity the whole process of finding the site and returning it’s location through to your computer can be slowed down.

    One broken or slow spot in the path can slow down the whole Internet.

  • How well the website has been designed.

    A poorly designed or coded website will be slow to load. The browser will have to work harder to render (present) the web page.

So there it is, a very simplified explanation of how the Internet works and how your computer, ISP, the Internet structure and web page design affect your Internet surfing experience.

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