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How does the internet work?

piemancoder

41 months ago

I'm a networking noob, and I've never understood how the internet worked. How do modems, routers, switches, etc. work and what do they do,?

Comments

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

Thats a freaking awesome link.. (and well old looking at it)

  • 40 months ago
  • 2 points

Here are the things that you will probably need to know to better understand contemporary residential Internet service:

  • ISP: Internet Service Provider. This is the company that provides a connection from your home computer/network to the rest of the Internet. These days, this is usually your local phone company (DSL) or cable company (DOCSIS).
  • Modem: The thing that connects your home computer/network to your ISP's network. Your ISP will often provide you with a modem (sometimes for free, sometimes not) to connect to their network.
  • Router: A thing that decides where to send network packets based on embedded addressing information. A router will look at the address in a packet and say (for example), "Oh, this goes to Google. The ISP knows exactly where that is, so I'll send it to them to handle." Routing for home networks is usually very simple as there are usually only two regions to think about (stuff inside my home network, stuff outside my home network).
  • Switch: A very very simple form of router, used inside your home network to connect all your computers together. A switch looks at the address inside a packet and goes (for example), "Oh, this is from the PC to the printer. Both of them are directly plugged in to me, so I'll just send it directly to the printer and not bother anyone else about it." If a switch doesn't recognize where the packet needs to go, then it will send it to everyone plugged in to it, in the hopes that at least one of them will know what to do with it.
  • Ethernet: The hardware that lets you connect computers to each other. More formally, Ethernet is an international standard of physical and electrical requirements to make data communication happen. The embodiment of this is a sort of "fat phone cable," one end of which you plug in to your router or switch, and the other end you plug into your computer/printer/TiVo/Roku/etc. Category 6 ("Cat.6") is the most current flavor available for most consumer use.
  • WAP: Wireless Access Point. Also called a WiFi Base Station. This is a radio that sends/receives data to/from other devices with WiFi receivers. Because it's a radio, it's broadcasting all your network activity to anyone else with a WiFi receiver, so be sure you set up encryption and access control correctly (many tutorials on the Web).

Oftentimes, when you sign up for service from an ISP, the modem they give you is actually a modem, router, switch, and WAP all-in-one. Wireless networking is very convenient, but it has limited range, and is subject to radio noise (not to mention all your neighbors trying to send data over the same frequencies). Wired networking is very reliable and fast, but you need to string Ethernet cables to each device.

The topology of your home network will probably take the following form:

  • Cable/phone line connected from wall into modem (actually a combo modem/router/switch/WAP),
  • Ethernet cables connected from modem to each computer/printer/other device,
  • WAP part of modem communicates over radio to WiFI-capable devices.
  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

routers send the data (which is in packets) to the next router or server down the line, modems are like routers but thay are at the your end, servers deal with the addressing of packets and processing data (and spying on you in the case of the US gov and NSA)

the way the info goes is: your modem>the ISP's server>second tier ISP's server>possibly a third tier ISP depending on where you trying to send data to>back down to a second tier ISP>back to a first tier ISP>the server, (routers not show because theres to many of them to show)

theres 3 tiers of ISPs, your ISP, your ISP's ISP and your ISP's ISP's ISP, but a lot more then 3 ISPs, you could say theres local ISPs, national ISPs and international ISPs, thats a short version of how the internet works. disclaimer: i don't have any degrees in networking so i likely missed about 70% or more of how the internet works

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Router: basically a short-range radio transmitter. Router connects to cable modem, modem to cable lines, cable lines to servers.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

It can get pretty complicated.

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

Actually the thing you are calling a "router" is a Router/network switch/wireless access point rolled into one, and a lot of the time the cable modem is rolled in there too.

[comment deleted]
  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point
  1. With Beers/Doritos
  2. Repeat next month

+11,000,000,000

[comment deleted]

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