Internet Characteristics, Advantages, Disadvantages, Architecture, Applications

Table of Contents:-

  • What is Internet?
  • Characteristics of Internet
  • Advantages of Internet
  • Disadvantages of Internet
  • Architecture of Internet
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  • URL – Uniform Resource Locator
  • Internet Protocols
  • Web Browsers
  • Downloading and Uploading on Internet
  • Internet Applications or Services

What is Internet?

The Internet is a ‘Network of Networks’, an ‘electronic web’, and an information superhighway that interlinks organizations and individuals with accessibility to the network. It serves as an information library, enabling searching of all possible topics and is accessible to all users regardless of their profile.

When two or more autonomous computers are interconnected in a manner that allows them to share information and resources to enhance performance, it is referred to as a network. When such sharing occurs at a global level, it is known as the internet. The internet serves as a communication network, bridging all worldwide small networks.

Utilizing WWW technology, the internet constructs information systems (IS) that aid organizations in achieving automation and standardization.

Characteristics of Internet

Characteristics of the internet are as follows:

1) Complex Network: The internet interconnects over 150 million computers, forming a complex “web of computers”.

2) Decentralized System: Globally, millions of networks and computers connect, distributing control and decision making among multiple nodes or participants instead of concentrating them in a central authority or entity.

3) Disorganized: Due to its dynamic nature, the internet is a disorganized network, making it confusing even for experienced users to navigate.

4) Extensive Usage: Millions of individuals access the internet regularly for various purposes.

5) Collection of Billions of Files: The internet hosts vast amounts of information on every possible topic, stored in various file formats.

6) Exponential Growth: The internet experiences exponential growth, doubling its size approximately every 18 months.

7) Dynamic: Information is constantly shared on the internet, making it dynamic and ever-changing. For example, a new network connects to the internet approximately every 30 minutes.

8) World-Wide Scope: The internet is utilized by millions of people worldwide for activities such as file sharing, topic searching, emailing, etc.

Advantages of Internet

The advantages of the Internet are given as follows:

1) Improved Data Flow: The Internet has facilitated faster data flow, enabling rapid delivery of emails anywhere in the world for example.

2) Employment Opportunities: The internet has led to the emergence of various new job opportunities, such as web administrators, web designers, and web developers, with a growing number of organizations operating online.

3) All-Time Availability: Information on the internet is accessible 24/7, as servers worldwide operate continuously.

4) Reduced Costs: It helps in minimizing unnecessary expenditures such as stationery, printing, and mailing costs by providing digital alternatives.

5) Increased Reachability: The internet has effectively reduced geographical barriers, making the world more accessible and removing class distinctions. For example, academic courses in the UK can now be pursued from locations like Mauritius through e-varsity programs available online.

6) No Discrimination: The Internet fosters communication across the globe without discrimination based on individuals, organizations, or countries.

7) Online Communication: The internet provides interactive online communication tools like chat services, enabling two-way communication different from traditional one-way methods such as letters, telegrams, and faxes.

8) E-Business: It supports various business operations including ordering items, generating quotations, bill payments, and exchange of business documents.

9) Accessibility to Knowledge: The internet functions as a vast library offering up-to-date information on a wide range of topics.

Disadvantages of Internet

The disadvantages of the Internet are as follows:

1) Loneliness: Individuals addicted to the internet are more likely to experience loneliness and depression compared to those who use it moderately.

2) Virus Threat: Personal computers connected to the internet face a high risk of virus attacks, which can disrupt regular operations and even lead to a hard disk crash.

3) Addiction: The internet is becoming an addiction for some people, causing problems in their families, personal relationships, and friendships.

4) Pornography: The internet hosts various pornographic sites accessible to children, which can negatively impact their mental health.

5) Health Problems: Prolonged exposure to computer screens and incorrect sitting postures can lead to various health issues.

6) Theft of Personal Details: While using the internet, there is a high risk of personal details such as name, address, and credit card numbers being stolen and used illegally by fraudsters.

Architecture of Internet

A wide variety of computers exist today, ranging from mainframes to small PCs, with varying speeds and purposes, running different operating systems such as Windows and Unix. The Internet serves as a connecting bridge for all of them.

At two levels, a computer is connected to the Internet:

1) Hardware: This includes components like network interfaces, modems, and cables, which physically link the computer to the Internet.

2) Software: Also known as protocols, this software is essential for ensuring understandable and meaningful communication between computers.

When a computer or network connects to the Internet, it typically does so through a device called a modem (short for modulator-demodulator). The modem converts digital data from the computer into analog voice form, which is then transmitted to the local Internet Service Provider (ISP) via telephone links. The ISP, in turn, converts the analog data back into digital form and facilitates its transmission across the Internet to the intended destination through a series of ISPs.

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the agency responsible for enabling users to access Internet services. Equipped with the necessary tools and technology, an ISP establishes the connection between users’ computers and the Internet. This connection can be established via various means, including telephone lines, leased lines, or wireless/radio links.

However, merely having a physical connection to the Internet isn’t sufficient for computers to communicate effectively. They must also communicate in a common language. Protocols serve as sets of rules that govern communication between computers, specifying how data is segmented into packets, how these packets are addressed, how errors are checked, and how packets are unpacked to retrieve the original data at the receiving end.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Internet service providers (ISPs) offer internet connectivity to users, providing them with the necessary tools and technologies for accessing the Internet. Through their ISP, users generally connect to the Internet via wireless links, telephone lines, or leased lines.

In India, there are various ISPs, numbering more than 500. Some of them include:

1) Dishnet

2) Satyam Computer Services Ltd.

3) Suchibh Communications Pvt. Ltd. (SCPL)

4) Business India Information Technology Ltd.

5) MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited)

6) DITI (Datapro Information Technology Limited)

7) ERNET (Education and Research Community Network)

8) BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited): A government body providing services throughout India, excluding metropolitan cities.

9) VSNL (Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited): A Government of India Enterprise offering dedicated commercial and government sector links.

These ISPs enable individuals, businesses, and institutions to access and utilize the Internet for various purposes.

URL- Uniform Resource Locator

The Universal Resource Locator, commonly referred to as URL (Uniform Resource Locator), is a fundamental component used to specify the address of a website on the Internet. To open a website’s home page and other web pages, the user needs to enter the URL into the addressing line of the browser. A URL is used to represent the website-specific pages, which may include files such as HTML pages, image files, programs, Java applets, etc.

URL consists of three parts. Consider the following URL example: https://www.dynamicstudyhub.com

Where,

  • https = Protocol;
  • dynamicstudyhub = Host
  • com = Location

These three parts are described as follows:

1) Protocol: It is a network protocol used to access resources. This substring is followed by the three characters (://), serving as a naming convention denoting the protocol definition. Following are some examples of protocols:

  1. http://
  2. ftp://
  3. mailto://

2) Host Name or Address: Computers and network devices are identified by host names. This substring is derived from standard internet databases, commonly known as DNS (Domain Name System). The substring can be a name or an IP address. For example, “dynamicstudyhub.com” is the URL protocol for the website.

3) File or Resource Location: File or resource locations indicate the path of a network resource on the host and are typically located within a folder (also known as a host directory). For example, “/index.php” is the home page of “https://dynamicstudyhub.com/”

Sometimes URI contains different prefixes for different types of items, e.g.:

  1. gopher: Represents a gopher item.
  2. ftp: Represents ftp resource.

Internet Protocols

The Internet operates on standard rules that facilitate communication between two parties. Below are the key elements of Internet protocol:

1) Syntax: This refers to the structure and rules governing the data format and signal levels.

2) Semantics: This includes control information that coordinates error-handling processes.

3) Timing: This ensures speed matching and sequencing.

Types of Internet Protocols

The following figure shows the various types of internet protocols:

1) TCP/IP

TCP/IP, which stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, is a set of communication protocols used to connect devices on the Internet. It serves as the fundamental protocol utilized for communication on the Internet. This protocol delineates the rules and algorithms governing communication over a network. Additionally, TCP/IP can be employed for private network usage. Each computer connected to the Internet possesses a copy of the TCP/IP protocol for communication.

TCP/IP encompasses the following elements:

i) Transmission Control Protocol (TCP): TCP is a connection-oriented protocol that furnishes reliable service between two processes running on client computers with network layer service. TCP divides data into packets known as TCP packets.

It delivers services like:

  1. Stream data transfer,
  2. Reliability,
  3. Efficient flow control,
  4. Complete duplex operation, and
  5. Multiplexing.

It also ensures efficient flow control by confirming acknowledgements sent back to the sender, guaranteeing reception at the receiver end without overwhelming its internal buffers.

ii) Internet Protocol (IP): IP facilitates data transport services across the Internet. It supports connectionless and best-effort delivery of datagrams via the internetwork. Furthermore, it aids in data link support with varying maximum transmission unit sizes through the fragmentation and reassembly of datagrams.

2) File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

FTP is utilized for transferring files over the Internet from one computer to another. These files may include software, text files, images, and more.

Initially, FTP was anticipated to contribute more to Internet traffic compared to other services before the popularization of the World Wide Web. However, nowadays, the Web is primarily responsible for significant traffic compared to FTP. FTP is typically required when downloading files through an Internet browser, where the URL begins with “ftp://” instead of “http://”.

Anonymous FTP services are provided by various host systems, even though data transfer using FTP necessitates a user ID on both systems. With this service, any user can easily access specific parts of disk space on the host system and then provide data and files publicly over the network.

Anonymous FTP servers are systems equipped with dedicated disks or computers to maintain extensive archives of source code.

Users can transfer data from one server to another using common FTP commands. Data transfer is facilitated once a user has logged in to the FTP server. Generally, FTP commands are based on the UNIX operating system, but there are currently various FTP software options available, which provide graphical interfaces to simplify the file transfer procedure.

3) Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

HTTP is a network layer protocol that sets a standard for communication between web browsers and servers. With the assistance of HTTP, accessing the vast amount of information available on the World Wide Web becomes possible.

Through this protocol, various forms of information, such as plain text, hypertext, audio, and video, can be transferred. This protocol derives its name from its efficiency in a hypertext environment, facilitating quick navigation among various documents.

A standard language known as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) codes plain text files for formatting content. This coded text is referred to as hypertext. HTML codes enable the creation of links in various forms, including images or text. When users click these links, they are directed to new HTML documents, text, animations, graphics, or sound.

Web Browsers

It is application software known as a “browser”. It is used to access various web pages from different sites. Typically, the browser translates HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) into a user-readable format, allowing users to view simple content such as images, video, audio, etc., and hyperlink data. Hyperlink data enables the user to navigate from one webpage to another.

When a user requests a web page, the browser connects to the web server and requests it to fulfil the user’s requirements. If the server has the requested page, it returns a response displayed on the user’s desktop.

Examples of Browsers

Following are some examples of browsers: 

1) Microsoft Internet Explorer: Microsoft developed and included this browser in the MS Windows operating system. It is a graphical-based browser that enables users to access the internet easily.

2) Mozilla Firefox: It is an open-source web browser available to users free of cost. Developed and managed by Mozilla Corporation, this browser offers the following features:

  1. Tabbed Browsing.
  2. Spell Checking.
  3. Live Bookmarking,
  4. Private browsing, etc.

3) Google Chrome: Developed by Google, Chrome utilizes the WebKit layout engine. The primary feature of this browser is to enhance security, speed, simplicity, and stability.

4) Safari: Created by Apple Inc., Safari comes pre-installed with Mac OS X and iOS operating systems.

Safari offers the following features:

  1. It can save webpage clips for viewing on the Apple Dashboard (Mac OS X only).
  2. It provides a resizable web search box in the toolbar, allowing users to choose among Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.
  3. It offers a convenient auto-filling feature for web forms.
  4. Safari includes bookmark management and integration with Address Book.

Downloading and Uploading on Internet

Downloading and Uploading on Internet is explained below:

1) Downloading

Downloading refers to transferring data from a central system to a smaller one. For example, files uploaded to the server might be downloaded by multiple users for viewing. When downloading files, the larger the file, the longer it takes to complete the transfer, just as uploading.

Downloading is transferring data from a central system to a smaller one. For example, other users can also download files uploaded to a server multiple times for viewing. Larger files take more time to transfer completely, similar to uploading.

Downloaded files typically remain on the server unless the user specifies otherwise, allowing others to access the information. Files are downloaded when moved from a server to a smaller peripheral unit. Depending on the situation, transferring data from one system to another is categorized as either uploading or downloading.

Download means receiving data from a remote or central system, such as a web server, FTP server, mail server, or similar system. A download refers to any file that is offered for downloading or that has been downloaded.

2) Uploading

Uploading refers to transferring data from one computer to another, typically from a smaller device to a larger one. From an Internet user’s point of view, uploading refers to the process of sending a file to a designated recipient computer. Individuals who share images on bulletin board systems (BBS) must upload files to the BBS.

Files are considered fully uploaded when successfully transferred from a computer to a central server. Uploading usually involves copying files from a smaller peripheral system to a larger central system.

For example, users might upload files from their cell phones to a personal computer. These files, in turn, might be uploaded again to a central server. The upload time for small files may only be a matter of seconds, whereas larger files with graphics may require hours to complete the upload process.

In most cases, uploading can be accomplished while the computer performs other tasks, although it may slow down the computer if it handles large files. The opposite operation, to upload, is to send data from a local system to a remote system, FTP server, or website.

Internet Applications or Services

The following image shows the primary and widespread applications of the Internet:

1) Communication Services

The Internet facilitates communication between users through various tools:

i) E-Mail: One of the first internet tools, allowing users to send and receive messages or other information in various formats such as text, video, sound, or files.

ii) Usenet: A network providing discussion groups where users can post articles on chosen newsgroups, each specializing in specific topics.

iii) E-Chatting: Online chat rooms enable users to express views in a group setting by typing messages, fostering real-time communication.

iv) Telnet: A command used to connect users and remote machines over the Internet, allowing the execution of commands on the remote machine.

v) Internet Telephony: Also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), enabling voice communication and multimedia sessions over the Internet.

vi) Video Conferencing: A service creating virtual discussion rooms for users globally to interact and converse, facilitating audio-video communication.

2) Information Retrieval Services

Various tools are available for retrieving information from the Internet:

i) File Transfer Protocol (FTP): Facilitates the transfer of files between computers, supporting any file format and activating client-server relationships.

ii) Archie: A search tool that identifies files available on anonymous FTP servers and creates a central database for user access.

iii) Gopher: A menu-based interface tool providing easy access to information stored on specialized servers known as Gopher sites.

iv) Veronica: A tool efficiently searching items on Gopher menus, allowing users to retrieve data from various databases.

3) Web Services

Client/server applications providing communication over the World Wide Web:

i) E-Government: Aims to facilitate government operations through Internet technologies, making citizens aware of government services and information.

ii) E-Commerce: Involves trading in products or services over the Internet, allowing virtual shops to be open 24/7 and accessible to buyers worldwide.

iii) E-News: Offers various forms of news electronically over the Internet, free of cost or at nominal charges.

iv) E-Recruitment: The process of recruitment using electronic resources, particularly the Internet, to hire efficient candidates from accessible locations at lower costs.

v) E-Education: Utilizes the Internet for educational purposes within the field of learning, offering e-classrooms, just-in-time training, and audio/video teleconferencing through corporate intranets.

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