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Web Design – Servers How They Operate

The overview look at Web Servers.

We will take a look at the mechanics on the process of web servers and how the public views the web pages. Regardless of where in the world you view the “webpage” the site is provided to the user. Some would link this to magic, the process can be found.
What is “the Internet”?

Simply, the internet is a collection of millions of computers, all linked together on a computer network. This network allows all the computers to communicate to each other. The connections between your computer and the internet can be linked by wireless, phone-line modem, DSL, or cable modem to the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP is an organization providing the necessary services for accessing and using the Internet.


Simply put, you connect to your computer. That computer is linked to a modem, which is then linked to the ISP.  Once the ISP is giving you access, you have the ability to view all open available websites.

Clients and Servers

Two types of machines reside on the Internet.

  • Clients
    • Provide services, such as FTP or Web.
  • Servers
    • Machines connecting to those services.

The user accessing the Internet would be the server. Where as Google is providing a service, and would be referred to as the client.

A server machine may provide one or more services on the Internet. For example, a server machine might have software running on it that allows it to act as a Web server, an e-mail server and an FTP server. The services are distinguished by how you access the server. The FTP software FileZilla will access the server using FTP requests. The Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox web software will access the server using its unique access request. The server in turn will respond accordingly.

IP Addresses

The IP address is unique per server on the Internet. Much like your individual physical home address for anyone in the world  to send you a letter, and it arriving correctly, the IP address is unique. IP stands for Internet Protocol. These IP addresses are 32-bit numbers.

These are generally viewed as;

You can see what your current IP address is by the site http://whatismyipaddress.com/.

Domain Names

Rather than learning the numeric sequence in the IP address, the domain name servers (DNS) maps human readable names to the IP address.

For example: google.com is used rather than The human user will remember google.com over the other. This is also why companies use “phonewords” when providing their phone numbers, during advertisements. Examples are; 1.800.flowers, 1.800.got.junk, ECT.

These set of servers, referred to as domain servers, map the host name to the proper numeric IP address.


The protocol is an agreed-upon format for transmitting data between two devices. It determines type of error checking and data compression used. Once a client has connected to a service on a particular port, it accesses the service using a specific protocol. It is the format in which the computer will communicate with each other. There are standard protocols in use, to allow easier means of communication between different servers.

The internet protocol (IP) commonly uses the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol).

The TCP/IP is a two layer program.

The higher layer, Transmission Control Protocol, manages the assembling of a message or file into smaller packets that are transmitted over the Internet and received by a TCP layer that reassembles the packets into the original message. The lower layer, Internet Protocol, handles the address part of each packet so that it gets to the right destination. Source.

The Overall View

Adding all the above together, you acquire the provided webpage, by the unique IP address. This is given by the DNS, in an easier way to remember the website’s address.



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