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How Web Servers Work

        Tech | Networking

Putting It All Together

Now you know a tremendous amount about the Internet. You know that when you type a URL into a browser, the following steps occur:

The browser breaks the URL into three parts:

  1. The protocol ("http")
  2. The server name ("www.howstuffworks.com")
  3. The file name ("web-server.htm")

The browser communicates with a name server to translate the server name, "www.howstuffworks.com," into an IP address, which it uses to connect to that server machine. The browser then forms a connection to the Web server at that IP address on port 80. Following the HTTP protocol, the browser sends a GET request to the server, asking for the file "http://www.howstuffworks.com/web-server.htm." (Note that cookies may be sent from browser to server with the GET request -- see How Internet Cookies Work for details.) The server sends 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 reads the HTML tags and formats the page onto your screen.