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The Computer Log #4 for November 25, 2009

Today I want to tell you a bit how the Internet works. Since most of us, with the few exceptions, use some sort of hi-speed access like ADSL, cable, or wireless. I will aim my description with that in mind.

Most of you connect either via wireless or via an Ethernet cable to a router, then to your connection like a cable modem, or your router may be be built in to the device that connects to the phone wire or cable coax, this all depends who you get your Internet from, and when you get your e-mail, or open up your browser, your home page pops in. Well the Internet is made up much like a spiders web and that is where we get the term “World Wide Web”. This technology is somewhat self healing. If a link breaks you will in all likely be routed over another link to that website you are browsing. When you start browsing the web and you go to a website, even if the business or organization is local, that web site may be on a computer (server) either locally like, or may be in another state like or even another country. In my case the computers that have most of my websites on them, are located in either Jamestown NY or Sherman NY, but you may have to go through maybe 20 hops or more to get to them depending on who your “Internet Service Provider” or ISP is. I will not get into how and others big sites on the “net”who uses many 10's of thousand web servers all over the world for you to access or browse.

A computer that has a website on it is called a “Web Server”. A Web Server may look like a pizza box set into a rack, or a box with many cards in them, but in all reality they are the same thing as your home computer. In my case, I believe in “Green” so I recycle many older home computers into well working “Web Servers” A web server may also contain several other items like a “Mail Server” or a “DNS Server. All of these are needed for you to send e-mail and browse the web. The “Mail Server” is what is called a store and forward system. The mail you send out goes to your local Mail Server then it is forwarded to the distance mail server. The addresses you send the mail to determines which mail server you send to, ie: or if it is local to some extent Your computer, when it uses a mail client like Outlook Express, Outlook and others will send your mail to a local mail server most of the time.

Some ISP's block the use of sending mail direct from a home computer to the distance mail server. That is a good security measure to stop Spam-bots from the ISP's network from flooding the world with Spam. I personally agree with this method of stopping Spam and wish more ISP's would do this for residential customers. I know that G-Mail and AOL is a different story because it is a web base mail system. A number of mail systems use a web base mail including my own servers. If you are not at your own computer you can use the Web Mail system on many servers to check your e-mail. A nice way to keep up without taking your computer with you.

A “DNS Server” or Domain Name System Server which your ISP has, is the phone book of the Internet and is needed to convert a domain name like to a group of numbers that the “net” can understand like which is my IP (Internet Protocol) address for I can place many domains on a single IP, due to a bit of wizardry in my server. uses the same IP address as . All my web/mail/dns servers, uses Linux, which cost me not one penny to implement, unlike the Windows base Web Server which can cost lots of money. The DNS server is also needed for mail, so mail can find the right mail server. You do not need to use your ISP's DNS server if you feel it is not working right. I recommend myself. It has a lot of great functions and filters, and it's free.

If you are a bit of a “geek” my free software of the week is the Blue Onyx Web/ Mail/ DNS Server software and this is the software I use for my newest webserver. It can be found at and the new website is using this software and will have the back copies of “The Computer Log” on-line.

Franklin S Werren is a computer technician and runs Chautauqua Lake Hosting and Franks Radio in Sherman NY. And can be found on the web at and and via e-mail at

Disclaimer: Neither “Franklin S Werren” or the “Chautauqua Star” have not received any money or promotional items in anything talked about in this column.

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Page last modified on November 24, 2009, at 01:22 PM EST