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How the Internet-infrastructure works

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 by Servage

Creating websites is not our sole duty as a web designer. We need to know many peripheral aspects of running and maintaining sites in order to be continuously successful. In this post, I cover some useful aspects of internet and related hardware, along with software troubles and solutions.

Unfortunately, we don’t all have the luxury of hiring a full time hardware expert, such as a big web development company employs. Freelancers are even devoid of handy advice from an experienced colleague during critical moments when our internet connection is down. In such situations, having some basic knowledge about our hardware peripherals, plus tips for how to restore the lost connection, might prove beneficial.

How It Works

Let’s see how an internet connection is working on our various devices. First, all our devices are either connected with routers (cable or wireless) or via towers for mobile devices for 3/4G, Wi-Fi, etc. These routers/towers need some sort of electric power to run, and so interruption in the power supply will likely break the internet connections with our devices. Therefore, our first target is to repair or restore the power of modems, which are within our reach.

The next step is beyond your direct reach. This includes other modems or cables (copper/optical fiber). These may stop our internet supply, due to power failure or breakage, in which case you need to register a complaint to your internet providers. Or they may stop due to the hosting services, which may suffer due to failure of their Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) or other hardware related problems. But before doing so, you have to confirm where the problem arises and what is its nature.

Fault Finding Techniques

To assist with fault finding techniques, you should have knowledge about the network and its peripherals. If you have Windows OS, you can run Command Prompt from the run option in start menu or from the All Programs of Accessories. For Mac, find it in Utilities and run Terminal. Here you use the ipconfig command to get your IP address.

Once we run this command prompt, we will get two IP interfaces, since our computer is connected with a modem through either cable or wireless network. You may question how this IP (internet protocol) address comes? When our computer connects with our network, it sends a request to all related devices to assign an IP address, and our broadband modems do this job dutifully.

Our modems or other IP address assigning devices use DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). Therefore, if you run ipconfig/release command first, followed by ipconfig/renew, you will get a new IP address or DHCP setting. If lucky, your tiny broadband router is not broken or disconnected due to wire breakage or power failure, thus you’ll get prompt answers.

Before analyzing the answer, let’s understand the meaning of networking language appearing on the screen with each configuration command. The first is default or default gateway. This is the gateway of your device or computer to the internet. So each of your requests pass through this gateway. If you want to know your default gateway, you need to run route print command on Windows. If you can remember, or note down this address, which is in the form of 00.00.00.00, you can see whether your internet connection is accessible or not by running the ping command. If you get a reply with 64 bytes, you can rest assured that your broadband router is 100% reachable.

Suppose your router or your computer have no indication of a fault or problem. You still need to go beyond that and find the emergence of the problematic places. In order to do this, you have to use tracert command on the Windows. This command will respond to the addresses of the other routers or devices (Hop) that come in the way of you and your website server.

References & More Reading

How To Fix The Web: Obscure Back-End Techniques And Terminal Secrets
A Comprehensive Guide To Firewalls

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