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Difference between the internet and the web main points

  • The Internet is NOT the same thing as the Web
  • The Web uses Internet infrastructure to operate through
  • The Web requires the Internet to function, not the other way around
  • The Web uses a protocol called Hypertext Protocol (HTTP) to send data across the Internet

Internet vs Web, let's explore...

We use the terms "internet" and "the web" interchangeably, but are they the same thing?  The answer is no, not really.  The Web, which is short for the "World Wide Web" uses the internet (or internetwork) to transfer text, images and other media to our web browsers so we can view websites.  

The Web could simply be seen as a subset of the internet.  A set of standards and protocols that operate on top of and through the internet. You could even say this is much the same as how an application uses an operating system to run on a home computer, whether that be Windows, macOS or Linux. The operating system doesn't need the application to function, however, the application does need the operating system to function.  The application must adopt all the required code structure, standards and features to ensure that it is compatible to run on the operating system.

Hypertext Protocol (HTTP) and the World Wide Web

We're not going to get into the internet too much here.  I'll cover that in a separate article. The main thing to remember is that websites use the internet and not the other way around.  Websites use a protocol called HTTP hypertext protocol, usually on port 80 (or 443 secure https) to make the connection across the internet.  This is why website addresses use the http:// or https:// prefix at the start of a web address.  It's telling the website to use hypertext protocol to send across the internet.

Back up a little you say, what's this port 80, etc? Well, that's part of the internet called internet protocol (IP) ...you know like "What's the IP address for that server?".  A series of numbers and dots if you have ever come across.  So when you type in your web address (or URL) into the browser, eg https://websitelibrary.com.au that address will be tied to an IP address that then goes and retrieves the content on a server listing on a port, in this case, 443 because it's secure https.  From there, your web browser displays the content of the web page to you.  

Using some analogies to better understand the differences between the internet and the web

If you are still wondering, are the internet and the web the same thing? Here is a video from Techquickie that explains the differences between the internet and the web pretty well.  They use some easy to understand analogies to paint a picture and get the point across.

Internet vs World Wide Web - The Difference Explained

Author: Techquickie


A practical example demonstrating Web and Internet differences

As explained in the video, if you use an email client like Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, Mailbox, etc or any client that is not within a browser, you are not using the web.  These applications connect directly to a mail server using email protocols such as POP, IMAP and SMTP.

When using Gmail, Hotmail and other browser-based applications to collect your emails, you are now using the Web.  Why? The browser uses HTTP (the protocol of the Web) to connect to a web server that in turn sends and receives email via the email protocols mentioned above.

From the Book:

Web Basics

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