How Things on the Internet “Magically” Happen

You open a browser. You type in a domain name or a search. As if by magic, a website appears. You can now read the information it displays, click it, even play a game within your browser.

And all this with very little effort.

We have grown so accustomed to (seemingly) instant delivery on the internet that a load speed higher than two or three seconds is considered poor. 

Is it too much to ask? Can’t we wait for an additional second to get to the web destination we want to? Apparently not. A mere one second extra could cost Amazon $1.6 billion in sales

Yes, speed is important. So important that we’re now talking about milliseconds. Users may not be able to tell exactly how much time a website took to load. But they can tell when it gets too frustrating. 

But what happens in those milliseconds? How does the internet work? What exactly does it take for the “magic” to pop up in front of our eyes in no more than three seconds?

Let’s find out.

How Do Websites Work?

To get to a website, you need its domain name. That’s the first prerequisite for a website to exist. The domain name is tied to the IP address of the server it “lives” on. In turn, all the IP addresses in the world are tracked and managed by something called Domain Name Server (DNS).

Briefly put, DNS is very similar to the Contacts app on your phone. Whenever you type in a name, the app displays that contact’s phone number and/or other details you have added. Tap on it and you can make a call, send an email, or send a text. 

When you type in a domain name, a similar quest begins. Your browser starts to make a series of inquiries. It searches for the domain name’s IP address and the web server that hosts the web pages associated with the domain name. Then, it submits a request to that server, asking for a copy of the web page you are looking for.

If the domain name is correct and if the web server is working properly, your browser will receive the web pages it asked for. Finally, it will go on to translate the code of the web page into something that can be intelligibly displayed on your screen.

And all of these things ideally happen in three seconds. Pretty cool, right? Almost like magic. But not quite.

However, as you may have noted above, not all websites are accessible anytime. Now, the human errors that lead to the inability to display a website (typing a domain name wrong) are not something within the control of the website’s publisher or owner.

But the other things usually are.

How Do You Keep Your Internet Real Estate in Perfect Working Condition?

The way a website or a web app loads, looks, and feels depends a lot on your development team. An extra line of code can cause serious loading issues and too much JavaScript will make your website load slower than a very chill snail.

Those are usually the first culprits to check out when your website or application isn’t performing as quickly as its supposed to. But there is also another often-overlooked factor: your web servers.

The location of the data center matters more than most people realize. It can affect your website’s speed and latency, among other things.

Why?

Let’s go back to how the internet works for a moment. Remember the requests the browser makes to the server? When those requests are answered, your browser receives files, photos, and more to display to the users. This data has to be downloaded before it is displayed, though. 

So the longer the distance this data has to travel, the slower your website will be. The farther from the user the server is, the longer it will take for your web pages to load.

With many data-heavy websites using cloud hosting—which puts data in servers around the world—the loading speed problem seems to be a never-ending story. This is why more and more businesses are moving from cloud to colocation, for instance. They need faster upload and download speeds, for the data they use internally or to connect with customers.

Colocation is the middle ground between running your own data center and using a cloud solution. You have all the advantages of your on-premise data center, without the major investment and maintenance costs and without the downsides of cloud hosting. 

How Do You Choose the Right Location for Your Data Center?

As always, you should start with your users. Where are they located? Are you catering to a local audience?

For many small- and medium-sized businesses, it makes sense to choose a data center that’s as close to “home” as possible.

Even if you’re catering to a national or internal audience, keeping your data close to home still makes sense. You will have faster access to your data and a way to quickly fix any issues that may arise. Regional data centers are a great option for colocation and securely storing your mission-critical digital assets. 

Looking for a fast, reliable, low-latency, and secure solution for data storage and web servers? The Heartland Technology Data Center (HTDC) facilities are ideally located in Iowa, perfect for companies located in or trying to reach the Midwest. Let’s talk about the storage and hosting solution your company needs.