You might use the Internet and connected technology for most parts of your life, but do you understand the finer details of how these devices work? How do they receive information that is stored so far away, perhaps on the other side of the planet? This is done via a web server, and it’s a fascinating piece of technology!
At its roots, the Internet uses the URL (short for Uniform Resource Locator) to render the associated web page. But you knew that; after all, you clicked on a URL located on a website to get to this blog. Your web browser sees the associated URL and takes a look at its three different parts.
Your device knows how to reach the web server by checking out the URL’s HyperText Transfer Protocol, which is the part that displays as HTTP at the beginning of any web link. In between the “www” and the ending of the URL (usually a “.com” or “.org”) is the name of the server, represented by an IP (Internet Protocol) address. The rest of the URL contains the page’s filename, which determines the specific content that will propagate on the page.
The website’s host server will then receive the request from HTTP, which presents the HTML of the requested page. The browser then interprets the HTML and shows it as a viewable webpage.
Web servers are also the entities responsible for storing credentials that allow you to visit private pages protected by passwords. This happens every time you visit a new web page, seeing as you have to prove that you’re allowed to access the page.
All of this is assuming that the webpage isn’t one of those newfangled things that changes constantly. If the webpage is static, and it’s only changed periodically by the creator, this is the way that the web server communicates with your URL input. However, if the page is dynamic, it will change based on input. For an example, consider Google’s results pages or your Facebook News Feed.
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