What happens when you type a URL in your browser and press ENTER?

jassem ben ali
7 min readJan 19, 2022


Every day you open up your browser and navigate to your favorite websites whether it be social media, news, or e-commerce sites. You go to this page by typing in a URL or clicking on a link to the page. Have you ever thought about what happens behind the scenes? How does the news get to you when you press enter after typing in the URL? How did the images on this post show up in your browser? How does your Twitter feed and the tweet data show up in your browser securely

there are many very detailed resources but few concise explanations of how a web browser, a server, and the general internet work together. This is how I would explain it:

  1. You enter a URL into a web browser
  2. The browser looks up the IP address for the domain name via DNS
  3. The browser sends a HTTP request to the server
  4. The server sends back a HTTP response
  5. The browser begins rendering the HTML
  6. The browser sends requests for additional objects embedded in HTML (images, css, JavaScript) and repeats steps 3–5.
  7. Once the page is loaded, the browser sends further async requests as needed.

How does DNS work?

The process of DNS resolution involves converting a host-name (such as www.example.com) into a computer-friendly IP address (such as An IP address is given to each device on the Internet, and that address is necessary to find the appropriate Internet device like a street address is used to find a particular home. When a user wants to load a web-page, a translation must occur between what a user types into their web browser (example.com) and the machine-friendly address necessary to locate the example.com web page.

There are 4 DNS servers involved in loading a web-page:

DNS recursor :The recursor can be thought of as a librarian who is asked to go find a particular book somewhere in a library.

Root nameserver : The root server is the first step in translating (resolving) human readable host names into IP addresses.

TLD nameserver: The top level domain server (TLD) can be thought of as a specific rack of books in a library. This nameserver is the next step in the search for a specific IP address, and it hosts the last portion of a host name (In example.com, the TLD server is “com”).

Authoritative nameserver: This final nameserver can be thought of as a dictionary on a rack of books, in which a specific name can be translated into its definition. The authoritative nameserver is the last stop in the nameserver query.

What is TCP/IP?

TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol and is a suite of communication protocols used to interconnect network devices on the internet. TCP/IP is also used as a communications protocol in a private computer network (an intranet or extranet).

TCP/IP specifies how data is exchanged over the internet by providing end-to-end communications that identify how it should be broken into packets, addressed, transmitted, routed and received at the destination. TCP/IP requires little central management and is designed to make networks reliable with the ability to recover automatically from the failure of any device on the network.

What is a Firewall?

A Firewall is a network security device that monitors and filters incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an organization’s previously established security policies. At its most basic, a firewall is essentially the barrier that sits between a private internal network and the public Internet. A firewall’s main purpose is to allow non-threatening traffic in and to keep dangerous traffic out.

Firewalls are categorized as a network-based or a host-based system. Network-based firewalls can be positioned anywhere within a LAN or WAN. They are either a software appliance running on general-purpose hardware, a hardware appliance running on special-purpose hardware, or a virtual appliance running on a virtual host controlled by a hypervisor. Firewall appliances may also offer non firewall functionality, such as DHCP or VPN services. Host-based firewalls are deployed directly on the host itself to control network traffic or other computing resources.This can be a daemon or service as a part of the operating system or an agent application for protection.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and, in short, it’s the standard technology for keeping an internet connection secure and safeguarding any sensitive data that is being sent between two systems, preventing criminals from reading and modifying any information transferred, including potential personal details. The two systems can be a server and a client (for example, a shopping website and browser) or server to server (for example, an application with personal identifiable information or with payroll information).

What is load balancing?

Load balancing is a core networking solution used to distribute traffic across multiple servers in a server farm. Load balancers improve application availability and responsiveness and prevent server overload. Each load balancer sits between client devices and backend servers, receiving and then distributing incoming requests to any available server capable of fulfilling them.

A load balancer may be:

  • A physical device, a virtualized instance running on specialized hardware, or a software process
  • Incorporated into application delivery controllers (ADCs) designed to more broadly improve the performance and security of three-tier web and microservices-based applications, regardless of where they’re hosted
  • Able to leverage many possible load balancing algorithms including round robin, server response time, and the least connection method to distribute traffic in line with current requirements

‘Web Server’:

Definition: A web server is a computer that runs websites. It’s a computer program that distributes web pages as they are requisitioned. The basic objective of the web server is to store, process and deliver web pages to the users. This intercommunication is done using Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). These web pages are mostly static content that includes HTML documents, images, style sheets, test etc. Apart from HTTP, a web server also supports SMTP (Simple Mail transfer Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) protocol for emailing and for file transfer and storage.

Description: The main job of a web server is to display the website content. If a web server is not exposed to the public and is used internally, then it is called Intranet Server. When anyone requests for a website by adding the URL or web address on a web browser’s (like Chrome or Firefox) address bar , the browser sends a request to the Internet for viewing the corresponding web page for that address. A Domain Name Server (DNS) converts this URL to an IP Address (For example, which in turn points to a Web Server.

Application Server:

An application server is a mixed framework of software that allows both the creation of web applications and a server environment to run them.

It can often be a complex stack of different computational elements running specific tasks that need to work as one to power multiple clouds and web-based software and application.

Sitting between the primary web-based server tier and the back-end tier of a database server, the application server is essentially a go-between for the database server and the users of the business or consumer apps it supports through putting various protocols and application programming interfaces (APIs) to use.

An application server is designed to install, operate and host applications and associated services for end users, IT services and organizations and facilitates the hosting and delivery of high-end consumer or business applications.

Depending on what is installed, an application server can be classified in a number of ways, such as a web server, database application server, general purpose application server or enterprise application server.

What is a database?

A database is information that is set up for easy access, management and updating. Computer databases typically store aggregations of data records or files that contain information, such as sales transactions, customer data, financials and product information.

Databases are used for storing, maintaining and accessing any sort of data. They collect information on people, places or things. That information is gathered in one place so that it can be observed and analyzed. Databases can be thought of as an organized collection of information.

What are databases used for?

Businesses use data stored in databases to make informed business decisions. Some of the ways organizations use databases include the following:

  • Improve business processes. Companies collect data about business processes, such sales, order processing and customer service. They analyze that data to improve these processes, expand their business and grow revenue.
  • Keep track of customers. Databases often store information about people, such as customers or users. For example, social media platforms use databases to store user information, such as names, email addresses and user behavior. The data is used to recommend content to users and improve the user experience.
  • Secure personal health information. Healthcare providers use databases to securely store personal health data to inform and improve patient care.
  • Store personal data. Databases can also be used to store personal information. For example, personal cloud storage is available for individual users to store media, such as photos, in a managed cloud.