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How Web Servers Work Behind the Scenes

   If you want to get into a bit more detail on the process of getting a Web page onto your computer screen, here are the basic steps that occurred behind the scenes.The browser broke the URL into three parts:

  The browser communicated with a name server to translate the server name into an IP Address, which it uses to connect to the server machine. The browser then formed a connection to the server at that IP address on port 80. (We’ll discuss ports later in this article.)Following the HTTP protocol, the browser sent a GET request to the server, asking for the file  (Note that cookies may be sent from browser to server with the GET request -- see How Internet Cookies Work for details.)The server then sent the HTML text for the Web page to the browser. (Cookies may also be sent from server to browser in the header for the page.) The browser read the HTML tags and formatted the page onto your screen.
  If you‘ve never explored this process before, that‘s a lot of new vocabulary. To understand this whole process in detail, you need to learn about IP addresses, ports, protocols... The following sections will lead you through a complete explanation.So what is the Internet? The Internet is a gigantic collection of millions of computers, all linked together on a computer network. The network allows all of the computers to communicate with one another. A home computer may be linked to the Internet using a phone-line modem, DSL or cable modem that talks to an Internet service provider (ISP). A computer in a business or university will usually have a network interface card (NIC) that directly connects it to a local area network (LAN) inside the business.
  The business can then connect its LAN to an ISP using a high-speed phone line like a T1 line. A T1 line can handle approximately 1.5 million bits per second, while a normal phone line using a modem can typically handle 30,000 to 50,000 bits per second.ISPs then connect to larger ISPs, and the largest ISPs maintain fiber-optic backbones for an entire nation or region. Backbones around the world are connected through fiber-optic lines, undersea cables or satellite links (see An Atlas of Cyberspaces for some interesting backbone maps). In this way, every computer on the Internet is connected to every other computer on the Internet.


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