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How does data travel over the internet?

2 Mins read

The internet is a magical place where we can connect with friends, learn new things, and waste hours of our lives scrolling through dog and dance videos. But have you ever stopped to wonder how all that information gets from point A to point B? Let me take you on a journey through the wondrous world of data transfer over the internet.

Let’s talk about the basics.

When you send or receive data over the internet, the data is broken down into small packets of information. Think of these packets like tiny little suitcases that contain a piece of your data and a label that tells the internet where it is supposed to go. These packets can vary in size depending on what kind of data you’re sending, but they are usually pretty small – around a few kilobytes each.

Now, once your data is packaged into these little packets, it is time to send them on their merry way. But, how do they get from your device to their destination? That’s where the magic of the internet comes in!

The packets are sent out into the vast network of interconnected computers and devices that make up the internet. Along the way, they might pass through dozens or even hundreds of different devices, like routers and switches, as they make their way to their final destination.

But here’s the thing – the internet doesn’t send your packets along a single, direct route. Instead, your packets might take a completely different path than you expect as they make their way through the network. It’s kind of like going from Ibadan to Lagos, and deciding to take a detour to Mowe to eat some delicious Ìkọ́kọrẹ́ – sure, it might take a little longer to get where you’re going, but it’s all part of the adventure.

Of course, all this wandering around can make it a little tricky to keep track of your packets. That’s where the internet protocol (or IP) comes in.

Every device on the internet has a unique IP address, which is kind of like a phone number for the internet. When your packets are sent out into the internet, they include the IP address of their final destination. As the packets travel through the network, routers and switches use this information to direct the packets toward their destination.

But what happens if a packet gets lost along the way? Don’t worry, the internet has a solution for that too! When your device sends out a packet, it expects to receive a confirmation that the packet was received successfully. If the confirmation does not arrive within a certain amount of time, your device assumes that the packet was lost and sends out another one. This process continues until the confirmation is received, ensuring that your data makes it to its destination safely and securely.

So, there you have it – a brief breakdown of how data travels over the internet. It might seem like a complex process, but in reality, it is just a bunch of little packets going on a wild adventure through the vast expanse of the internet. Hopefully, one of your packets won’t get lost in a pot of Gbegiri in Ibadan, and if it does, hope it enjoys its final moments.

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About author
When I'm not reading about tech, I'm writing about it, or thinking about the next weird food combinations to try. I do all these with my headphones plugged in, and a sticky note on my computer with the words: "The galaxy needs saving, Star Lord."
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