“How the Internet Works”

Any idea how the internet works?


Well, let me do my best to explain it to you.

By the end, you should have a fairly clear understanding.

What is a website?

A website is actually just a bunch of computer codes.

The basic coding is called “HTML”.

There is also “CSS”, which is code for how the website looks.

There is “JavaScript” and “PHP”, which make the website interactive.

And things like flash games are run on a coding called “Java” and “Adobe Flash”.

(you’re probably lost by now…)

The point is that your web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) takes ALL this coding and spits out a something you can read!

Otherwise, you’d be really confused.

For example, here is small piece of the pure code of my website:

There is hundreds of lines of codes, This is just the first 8 lines

There is hundreds of lines of codes, These are just the first 8 lines

Who owns the internet?

No one specifically owns the internet.

There is one organization that manages it, but I’ll get to that in a bit.


When you visit a website, you are actually connecting to a special computer called a server.

A server is just a computer built specifically to run things like a website.

The internet is the name for all the interconnected servers and computers in the world.


Big companies like Google have several building full of servers all over the globe!

Here is JUST ONE of Google’s “data centers” :

(A picture of a room full of servers is shown)

Source: http://www.google.com/about/datacenters/gallery/#/tech/2

Amazing isn’t it? All that machinery so that a billion people around the world can use Google and Youtube!

Private Companies

There are other companies that have buildings full of servers like Google.

But they rent their servers to people so they can run their website.

They are called “hosting companies”. You may have heard of some of them (Godaddy, Hostgator, etc.).

That is where most people’s websites are run.

Mostly because it’s a hassle to set up a server yourself if you’re not a computer geek.

Plus, the hosting companies manage any tech or security issues that may come up.

Where do the websites names come from?

IP addresses and the ICANN

When you go on Google. Your web browser will say “http://www.google.com/”.

Your computer actually sees a serial number.

Every single website has a unique identifying number called an IP address.

Your own computer has one too!

All the website IP addresses are managed by an organization called the ICANN.

They also manage website names as well (imagine navigating the internet with IP addresses only).

ICANN and private companies

Some companies are accredited by the ICANN.

That just means they are allowed to sell website names to people.

If you want a name, you have to buy it from one of the companies listed.


Okay, let go over the most important points!

  • A website is a bunch of code.
  • Your web browser takes the code and turns it into something you can read.


  • A website is run on a special computer called a server.
  • All the connected servers and computers are what make up the internet.
  • Most websites are run on servers rented from a “hosting” company.
  • Large companies like Google and hosting companies have buildings full of servers.


  • Each website (and computer) has a unique identifying number called an IP address.
  • The website names and IP addresses are managed by the ICANN.
  • Some companies are given permission by the ICANN to sell website names to the public.

That should be everything.

Don’t worry, figuring out this huge jumbled mess was a challenge for me as well.

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