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How does it work

Quote - "Everything that can be invented has been invented." Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

If you started a the beginning of our guides, you will already know that web pages are stored on a server and a client (your PC) can access these pages, but how does the server know which page you want, or where to send it?
Read on as we take a look at how the whole thing works.

Each time you connect to the internet, your computer has a unique address which distinguishes you from everyone else, called an IP (Internet protocol).
The format of an IP is a numeric address written as four numbers separated by a full stop. Each number can be zero to 255. For example, 1.234.56.78 could be an IP address.
There are a possible 4,294,967,296 (nearly 4.3 billion) combinations to make up an address, and they are running out so ways of increasing the number of addresses available are being considered.

If you want to know your IP address, Click here (pop-up)

Each web site (a collection of related web pages) also has a unique address called a URL (uniform resource locator). The URL of this site is http://internetinspiration.co.uk

Individual web pages are identified with the name of the page written after the web site address, like this http://internetinspiration.co.uk/how-does-the-internet-work.htm

These addresses allow a specific web page to be transported from one part of the internet to another, i.e. from a server to your computer.

The computer's operating system uses a browser to translate and display the web pages. The most used is Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which comes with Windows . Other popular ones include Netscape's Navigator, MSN and AOL. These are discussed in the Browser section, where you can update yours to the latest version available, or download one of the alternatives.
You instruct the browser what to do, moving the mouse will move a curser on the screen, clicking the mouse on an instruction or option tells the browser what you want to do.

 Web sites can be found by typing into an input box, (usually marked 'search' or 'go') the URL of a particular site, or by typing in words which relate to a particular topic and the search engine will check its data and offer you web pages which contain those words.

Web pages contain links (usually written in blue and underlined or an image) called Hypertext links. You know when your are on one because your cursers arrow will change to a hand. like this

. Example of a LINK.

A link is a path to connect from one part of the web to another. This could be a specific part of the same page, or another page in the same web site, or a different web site altogether.

Without links there would be no world wide web.

When you click on a link, your browser instructs your Internet service provider to  request the data from the server. It uses a series of routers and switches to travel through an intricate series of digital pathways, a bit like a train following a pre determined route, interchanging across various fixed tracks to get from A to B.
The requested data is then transported back to your computer in small packets. These packets may not necessarily  all use the same route.
If any packets are missing a message is sent to retrieve them. This process continues until all packets are received the browser then reassembles the packets and displays the web page.

Your computer will store all the web pages you visit in a cache, pronounced cash. This is a temporary file and is used when you revisit a site. It saves a lot of time having to wait for images to download as it recalls the ones stored in your PC.
There are drawbacks though, as it can use up a lot of disk space, so you need to empty them occasionally. If you do not know how to do this, Click here

Got that? Click the next button to get familiar with the bits of your computer you will use.

Internet Guides

What is it?

Where did it come from?

How does it work?

What do I need?

How do I use it?

Browsers

Searching

Accessibility

Uses for the net

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