Free technical help for digital creators - music, video, art, photography, graphic & web design

Internet / web distinction

The Internet (Net) is a world wide network of computing hardware and the connections between them. Information is sent over this network facilitated by a software "layer", or protocol, called TCP/IP. In short, the internet is the "physical" collection of computers and connections, and the software layer of TCP/IP. You can think of the internet as being a system of roads and TCP/IP as being the tarmac on them.

This "physical" network consists of several elements ...


Servers are the computers which are permanently connected to the internet. The main functions of servers are ...

  • to host web sites (domain name and web site hosting servers)
  • to host email accounts
  • to route internet traffic (ISP)

Client computers

A client computer is one which is permanently connected through broadband or temporarily connected via dial up. The computers we use at home and work are client computers. Client computers do not act as servers and under normal conditions other computers on the internet cannot access data on them.

If you have an "always on" broadband connection this does not mean your computer is a server, although with the right software and a static IP address it could be.

Network connections

Servers and client computers are connected together with several kinds of connection technologies such as ...

  • Phone lines (copper wires)
  • Cable TV lines
  • Wireless (so called wi-fi)
  • Optical (between telephone exchanges for eg)
  • Ethernet cables (for local networks and intranet's)
  • Satellites

Internet protocols (or languages)

There are a number of computer languages used for sending information over the internet. These languages are called protocols. Each protocols is designed for a specific task. These protocols include ...

  • World wide web. The web uses HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol), to send and receive HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) web pages, and the media which is linked to them, over the internet.
  • FTP. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a protocol for transferring, or copying, files from one computer on the internet to another.
  • Email
  • Usenet's (discussion groups, bulletin boards, Newsgroups etc).

World wide web

The World Wide Web (Web) is a graphic rich environment employing its own protocol, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) to transfer web pages, and the media which is linked to them, over the internet. These web pages can be built by anyone with a computer and an internet connection and "uploaded" to a server which "hosts" them and makes them available for viewing by anyone "surfing" the web.

Every web site is identified by a unique URL (Universal Resource Locator). Most internet users experience the Internet through the World Wide Web.

Useful diagram

Click here for a useful diagram showing internet connections.