How Do Web Servers Work

Have you ever wondered just exactly how this Web page you are reading found its way into your browser and onto your computer screen? The process largely depends on Web servers.

Have you ever wondered just exactly how this Web page you are reading found its way into your browser and onto your computer screen? The process largely depends on Web servers. Read on as Webopedia briefly explains the mechanisms that bring Web pages to your home, your office or your mobile computers.

Typically, users visit a Web site by either clicking on a hyperlink that brings them to that site or keying the site’s URL directly into the address bar of a browser. But how does the same site appear on anyone’s computer anywhere in the world and often on many computers at the same time?

Let’s use Webopedia as an example. You decide to visit Webopedia by typing its URL — https://www.webopedia.com — into your Web browser. Through an Internet connection, your browser initiates a connection to the Web server that is storing the Webopedia files by first converting the domain name into an IP address (through a domain name service) and then locating the server that is storing the information for that IP address (also see Understanding IP Addressing).

The Web server stores all of the files necessary to display Webopedia’s pages on your computer — typically all the individual pages that comprise the entirety of a Web site, any images/graphic files and any scripts that make dynamic elements of the site function.

Once contact has been made, the browser requests the data from the Web server, and using HTTP, the server delivers the data back to your browser. The browser in turn converts, or formats, the computer languages that the files are made up of into what you see displayed in your browser. In the same way the server can send the files to many client computers at the same time, allowing multiple clients to view the same page simultaneously.

This article was originally published on June 24, 2010

Webopedia Staff
Webopedia Staff
Since 1995, more than 100 tech experts and researchers have kept Webopedia’s definitions, articles, and study guides up to date. For more information on current editorial staff, please visit our About page.

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