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How Data is delivered reliably on the Internet

Since the last post where I talked about the best antivirus, today’s post I am going to talk about the way data is delivered on the internet reliably.

By the end of this post, you will be able to know the role of Router, how it handles the delivery of data on the internet.

The internet is built upon protocols that make it to be scalable no matter how many devices have to be connected.

Let us see how the internet is reliable and can deliver data to you.

If you want to play a song from an online application or a music website, the first thing that you will do is to type the URL for that site, for example, By doing that you are sending a request to the server that hosts that website, and then the server has to respond with what you requested and the song you want to listen to will start playing.

You may think that the request you made to play a song is a direct line, straight from you to and from to you. Well, the internet does not work like that; if the internet were a direct dedicated line then it would be impossible to keep things working smoothly. The internet cannot handle many devices at once to a specific location. For more details, read IP address and DNS.

The data travels on the internet in a complex way, less direct routes and it does not need to follow a fixed path.

Information sent via the internet is transferred to what we call the PACKET of Information.

As we do in normal life to avoid traffic depending on the road’s condition or safe route, a driver needs a destination where he is going even he may take a complicated or long route but he knows where to go. A packet of information uses the same process.

Transport of materials using a car has a limit, the digital information also has some limitations. It depends on the size of what is sent. Imagine you have a big industrial machine or installations that have to be sent to a client, that entire installation can not fit in one car or truck, it has to be broken into small parts and carried by trucks. Each truck driver may use a different route to reach the destination, then once all trucks arrive, it is now time to offload and putt all parts together to be used.

Similarly, that is how it works on the internet. If you have data of music or image that you want to send to a friend or upload to a website, that huge image or music is made of millions or billions of bits (0s and 1s). To be transported, that music or picture is broken into hundreds or thousands of pieces called PACKET, each Packet can carry a certain amount of 0s and 1s.

Unlike for trucks, those packets do not have drivers and they do not choose routes. Each Packet has the IP Address of the source and the destination where to go and is controlled by ROUTER, who are specials computers on the internet that act as traffic managers to keep packets moving correctly through the internet. If one Router is not working, the individual packet is directed to a different route. Packets may reach the destination at a different time and out of order then arranges at the destination before the delivery report.

The question now is that how does it get together?

As part of internet protocol, every Router keeps track of multiple paths of sending packets and chooses the cheapest available path for each piece of data and attached each destination IP address to each Packet.

Cheapest here is refer to the time, politics, and relationship between companies.

Often the best route for data to transit is not the most direct. Having the option for path makes the network fault-tolerant, meaning it will keep sending packets if something went wrong. Moreover, this is the basic principle of internet reliability.

When you want to listen to a song, before it has to play, all packets of data have to be delivered. If it does not, your music will not be going to play. The question is how to be sure that all data will be delivered?

Thanks to the TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). TCP manages the sending and receiving of all data as packets. It is like guaranteed mail service.

When request a song, the server sends the song to you broken up to many pieces, which are packets.

When your packets arrived, TCP does a full inventory of those packets and sends back an acknowledgment on each packet received. If all packet is arrived complete, TCP can sign for the delivery and your song can start playing. But if some packets missing TCP will not sign for the acknowledgment, but will report the faulty to the source. Once the source received the missing report from TCP, it will send those missing packets again, and TCP is going to verify again to see if everything is right, then you can start listening to your music.

The better part of TCP and ROUTER systems is that they are scalable. They can work with small devices, billions, and trillions. It is possible because of the principals of Faulty Tolerance Redundancy, meaning the more routers we add the more reliable the internet becomes, and what is great of the internet is that we can grow and scale the internet without interrupting service for anybody using it.

In conclusion, the internet is made with thousands of networks, billions of computers, and devices that are connected physically. These different systems make up the internet connection and communicate with each other, and work together by agreeing upon standard philosophy of how data is sent around the internet, which is Connect, Communicate and Collaborate. Also, routers as specials computers help all packets to make their way safely to the destination that TCP manages the sending and receiving of data as packets and assembles them on arrival.

Thanks for reading.

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