How the Internet Works

Context for everything digital

There are a lot of moving pieces involved in the internet, but that doesn’t mean it has to be utterly confusing.

The gist is that data moves back and forth between devices, but understanding where those computers are and what they do gives you context around what’s going on when you build a website, put a file online or just surf the web and can’t figure out why it’s slow.

The below image and text will save you time when troubleshooting or trying to understand pretty much anything digital.

 Click to Enlarge

As you can see above, there are a few pieces to how the web works. This certainly isn’t everything, but it’s enough to give you the high level view you need to know what’s going on.

Your computer [or device] pulls up various pieces of media from other computers all over the world. It does this through many, many linked pieces of software and hardware. It’s a constant back and forth.

Your computer operating system, the web browser or application you are using, the quality of your internet service provider, the physical location you’re getting data from, and the environment where the data lives are the most crucial pieces that impact your internet experience.

Later in the guide you’ll learn about file sharing and FTP, which involve how to move data from your computer to the web [think of it as just another computer made to always be online] so it’s accessible to everyone. This is ideal for that eBook you’re building or those audio recordings you want to include in your next product.