What is the difference between the internet and the web?

Olle Vastbinder
  • about 2 months ago
  • 3 min read

When people are talking about the internet, they often use both the terms 'Internet' and 'World Wide Web' (web or WWW) interchangeably. But while these may seem the same, they describe two distinct concepts. In this blog, we explain the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web.

What is the internet?

The term internet is the global network itself, without any data. The internet serves as the underlying infrastructure that enables communication and data transmission. And despite people using the web (or World Wide Web) to describe the internet, the web is 'just' a part of the internet. To better understand that, it's important to look at the key components of the internet.

The key components that make up the internet

  • Physical infrastructure
  • Protocols
  • Domain Name Systems (DNS)
  • World Wide Web (WWW)

Physical infrastructure

The internet is the name for the physical components that form the network infrastructure. These components, or hardware, can be any physical object that plays a part in connecting the network. From servers and routers to switches, cables, and even satellites. These elements work together to transmit data packets between devices across the globe.


Protocols are the foundation of internet communication. They define how devices communicate by establishing standardized rules and conventions for data transmission. Protocols like HTTP, TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) and WHOIS govern how data is formatted, transmitted, and received, ensuring seamless interoperability across diverse networks. The protocols are often considered part of the web.

Domain Name System (DNS)

The DNS is the internet's address book, translating human-readable domain names known as URLs (e.g., into numerical IP addresses that are used by computers. This system enables users to navigate the internet using intuitive domain names rather than cumbersome IP addresses. While not an essential part of the internet, DNS makes the internet usable for everyone.

World Wide Web (WWW)

The World Wide Web is all the information that is accessible via the internet. The web consists of the interlinked hypertext documents that allow users to navigate between websites and view the available digitalized information, such as text, images, and videos. The web is crucial for that, as it also describes and standardizes how the information can be shared. The technical part of the web dictates the URL, the HTML, and the HTTP protocol, too. So basically, the web is an almost endless encyclopedia with its contents stored on millions of servers on millions of websites all over the world.

Should you say you are surfing the web or the internet?

Essentially, the internet is the hardware and the protocols that make global communication possible. The World Wide Web is the information itself. While the internet is the whole system of connected computers, the web is just the part you see in your web browser, where you can find everything from news to online shopping, and even websites that offer web data. While the internet and the web are often used synonymously, it's important to understand that the web is purely one of the services that run on the internet. So technically, you could say you are surfing the internet using the web.

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