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AYNNYD Help Documents: Internet Anatomy

AYNNYD Help Documents:


The Anatomy of a Website Request:

How It All Works:

  • Many people think when you visit a website you are seeing information "Out There Somewhere" and to a certain degree this is true, but in reality you are requesting information from "Out There Somewhere" to be delivered to your computer. This is both one of the single most powerful aspects of the internet and its biggest weakness. Powerful because it relies on your computer to do the work of displaying the page, but weak because somewhere along the way communications can break down, information gets lost, and you see the infamous "Page Not Found Error".
  • The Details:
    • You have a computer, on that computer is installed software called a Website Browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Firefox, etc), and you have a website address, let's get some information. You type the website address (i.e. the domain name) in your browser address bar and hit enter, here's what happens:
    • Your computer doesn't know where to find, it needs a physical address much like that of a house address called an Internet Protocol address or IP for short (an IP looks something like Your browser requests the IP address for the domain on a Domain Name Server or DNS for short (the telephone white pages of the internet).
    • The DNS returns the IP address to your browser.
    • Your browser has the IP address now, so it submits a request for information to the IP associated with the Domain name and waits to see what happens.
    • "Out There Somewhere" a computer attached to the internet with the assigned IP address you just looked up and an always on connection running a program called a Website Server, receives your request for the website It looks for a website and content associated with your request in it's files, if it finds the content you requested, it gathers all the images, documents, and or files associated with that request and sends them back to the requesting IP (i.e. the computer you are sitting in front of).
    • Your browser receives the information sent by the Web Server and reconstructs the content documents into a viewable page and displays it on your computer screen.
    • The request is over an you have the information displayed in front of you on your computer.
    • If for any reason there is a communications breakdown at any point along this sequence, you will get that ugly "Page Not Found" error we all hate.
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