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Computing Academy GCSE Computer Science

When typing a web

When typing a web address into a browser, the browser software is client software, running on a client computer. The client computer sends the request across the Internet to a server machine where the web server software processes the request and responds with the requested webpage. Packets and Packet Switching Data sent between computers across a network - including the Internet needs to be broken down into small chunks called packets. Whether it’s a word processed document, a single photograph or an entire movie - it will be split into packets before transmission and reassembled on arrival at the destination. The early analogue telephone network used a system known as circuit switching to secure a dedicated link between the person making the call and the person receiving the call. The call could not take place until this dedicated connection was made. When attempting to transmit data from one side of the world to the other, it is not possible to establish a d e d i c a t e d c o n t i n u o u s connection between the client and the server as this w o u l d t i e u p r o u t e r s , switches and cables all over the world. Packet switching allows data to be sent without planning a dedicated route first. At each node along the journey - which might be a router or a switch - each packet of data is routed 109

along to the next node. If one node is busy, or offline, the packet can be routed via a different node. Packets that make up the same file, may travel to their destination via different routes and may arrive at their destination in any order. The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is responsible for ensuring that all expected packets have been received and that they are then reassembled in the correct order. 110

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