Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You, And Your Browser

When it comes down to the basics, that's all that you should care about. You want to view this website using your browser. What your browser does is not your business.

Unless you want to get more technical.

Your browser is an application, running on your computer, and on the computer network. Your computer is simply a small part of the network.
  • Your computer (your other client and server computers, and your routers).
  • Your ISP's computers (routers and servers).
  • Other ISP's computers (routers and servers).
  • Google's computers (routers and servers).


This thing that you call a network is just a huge collection of computers connected by wires. A network has a structure, and the structure can be seen (and understood) if you know about the layering. You can understand the layering as a burrito, or you can see it as a spy delivering secret messages, or just as it is, a layered delivery system.

Your browser is an application running on your computers, and it sends data to other applications running on other computers. Google's servers are computers, running applications, and sending data to your computer.

In between your computers, and Google's computers, are the routers. All that the routers do is pass traffic (data) between your computers and Google's computers. One ISP's routers are the same as any other ISP's routers, and work in the same way.

So why can some ISP's routers cause havoc to Google's computers (and to your browser, and to you)?

The data from your browser is broken down into segments, then packets, by the network inside your computer. The packets are passed by your computer to your router, broken down into frames, and transported over the wires to another router, which reconstitutes the frames into packets again, and sends the packets on. Eventually, the packets are reconstituted into segments, then data, by the Google servers.

So what is special about one ISP's routers, that other ISP's routers aren't doing?

That's a question for Blogger to answer.

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