Now that we’ve identified the structure of a basic web address, the logical question is: Where do the files actually reside?
Believe it or not, web pages are stored / can be stored on a computer much like the one you’re using to view this site. The key is that the computer must also be connected to the internet and designated as a web server. This means the computer is set to receive requests for files, and then to respond to those requests by sending the appropriate file. When you type a web address into a web browser and click Enter, your computer sends a message to locate the requested information. The domain portion of the address gives the first clue where to look.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) takes care of managing the central database of domains, making sure all addresses are unique and identifiable. The ICANN registry tells the numeric address of the server associated with each particular domain, which in turn indicates where the files for that domain can be found. To help clarify the relationship, suppose the address book on your mobile phone was the central database for domain name registrations.
If you wanted to call your mother, you might type ‘mom’ into the address book. When you locate the listing and click Call, your phone cross-references ‘mom’ with the related phone number, and routes your call accordingly. Web addresses work in much the same way to locate the appropriate web server storing a site’s content.
When setting up a new web site, you’ll need to decide which server should house your content.