How Does the Internet Work?

Tech Talker explains the basics of how the internet works!

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #85

I was talking to one of my non-techie friends the other day and he kept referring to the internet as “the web.” This led us down the path of what the internet and the web actually are, and how they work. Naturally, I thought this would be a great topic for a Tech Talker episode.>

The Internet v. The Web

First I want to clear something up. It is pretty common to hear the terms “Internet” and "the web” used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two.The internet encompasses the web. The internet is the infrastructure of networks that allows the web to exist and the web is made up of pages.

Now that we’ve clarified, let’s move on to the cloud. I frequently get asked, “What is the cloud?” In fact, I did an episode a while back on just that very question. The answer is actually really simple: The cloud is the internet, just with a fancy marketing term. So when your files are stored in the cloud, that’s just the same as saying they are stored on the internet.

The internet however isn’t like a cloud at all; instead it’s actually a collection of computer networks. When a computer is plugged into the network, it can then communicate with other computers also connected to the network. Each device connected to the internet has an Internet Protocol Address or IP address which is a unique set of numbers assigned to that device which allows it to send and receive information. This is similar to the way your house has a unique address that allows snail mail to get there pretty regularly.

Next there are routers that help direct where your data is going to ensure your information gets from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. You probably have a router in your house, and this router helps to direct internet traffic between your Internet Service Provider or ISP (such as Comcast, AT&T, or Charter) and the devices in your house.

See also: How to Buy a Router



About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.