Computer Networking and the Internet

What is computer networking? It’s basically connecting 2 or more computers together so that they can “talk” to each other. If you have more than one computer in your home or office, they are most likely networked together.

In the home, the most common way to create a network is with a router. Installing a wireless router in your home allows multiple computers to share the same internet connection and it adds wireless access. Any computer connected to that router, whether it’s connected with a wire or wirelessly, is on your network. Your home router creates your network.

In a business environment, and in some homes, a network is created with panels, switches, hubs, and so forth. But it’s the same concept. We are just hooking our computers together so they can share an internet connection. Networking computers together allows them to “talk” to each other so we can share files, share printers, play games together, send and receive e-mail, view web pages, and so forth.

The internet is a type of network. It’s basically a network of networks. When you sign up for internet service, you sign up with an internet service provider. That provider has a very large network of all of their customers. That internet service provider’s network is part of a larger internet service providers network. The large internet service providers have large networks of all of their customers, and their customer’s customers. They connect these large networks to each other and what you get is the Internet.

Because the Internet is a network of networks, the path a packet of information takes to go from one place to another may be different each time it travels. This is a good thing because if there is a problem on one network, there is another route your request can take to get where it’s going.

And you might be surprised to see the path your little packet of information takes to get where it’s going. Send an e-mail to your friend that lives 4 miles from your house, that e-mail could travel the world before ending up on your friend’s computer.

When you type in www.google.com in your web browser, a packet of information is sent out to the server that hosts www.google.com. Because the internet is a network of networks, this packet of information travels from server to server to server until it reaches the server that hosts www.google.com. Each time a packet travels from one server to another, that’s called a hop.

How many hops does it take for a network packet to get from your computer to www.google.com? It depends. It depends on who your internet service provider is. It also depends on how busy each internet server is. There is a command you can run on your computer that will show you all of the hops an internet packet takes to get from your computer to another computer on the internet. When I run this command on my computer to www.google.com, it takes 14 hops to get to www.google.com. Are you surprised at how many hops there were?

Try it on your computer. Here’s how.

If you have Windows XP

1.       Click on Start and then click on run

2.       Type cmd and click ok

3.       Type tracert www.google.com

4.       Hit enter on your keyboard and watch it list each hop.

5.       Try this with other server names.

6.       When you are done, type exit and hit enter.

If you have Windows Vista

1.       Click on the button formally known as Start

2.       Type cmd and hit enter on your keyboard

3.       Type: tracert www.google.com

4.       Hit enter on your keyboard and watch it list each hop.

5.       Try this with other server names.

6.       When you are done, type exit and hit enter.

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