What is a search engine
Question: I’m completely in the dark about this entire “search engine” hubbub and the Internet. What is a search engine?
Answer: A search engine is essentially a program that searches all web pages on the Internet and indexes the information so people can find what they want.
The Indexed Web contains at least 14.21 billion pages (Tuesday, 26 February, 2013) and sifting through all that information on your own can be a bit time consuming.
Companies like Google, Yahoo, and MSN have hundreds of thousands of server computers that collect all this information.
The servers index the information searching for keywords you may type, organize the database so it’s quickly available, categorize the web pages, and throw out any web pages or sites that shouldn’t be listed for whatever reason.
Think of it like a huge conveyor belt of potato chips about two feet wide and about two miles long never-endingly whizzing by, and on either side of the conveyor belt you have thousands of workers classifying each potato chip according to size, weight, color, shape, and about 20 other characteristics.
Then, all the information gathered needs to be put into a computer database, linked to each chip that’s still moving on the conveyor belt.
The boss needs to know exactly what chip containing what characteristics is at what location on the conveyor belt.
All this needs to be done immediately for each chip zooming by and at the end of the two miles, the chips start at the beginning again.
Of course, being able to provide navigation to something as huge as the Internet is very costly,
but also very profitable. Web searching companies make their money on advertising,
and if you control the information on the Internet (which I firmly believe web searching companies do) then you control the advertising.
It’s all about perspective and individual opinion,
but the consensus is that Google is top dog in this field with Bing being number two, followed by Microsoft’s MSN being number three.
The funny thing is Google is ust 13 years old, but they found a secret recipe for maximizing the characteristics of each web page that people just seem to flock to.
It’s been estimated that Google has almost 5,000,000 servers and 12-14 petabytes (one petabyte is one million gigabytes) of RAM.
Most computers have 1-4 gigabyte of RAM and about 500 gigabytes of total file storage on their computer.
Just so you know the difference, RAM is what lets you run more programs simultaneously, and file storage is what lets you store you pictures, music, and documents on the computer