This Blog begins with a description of computer networks became more & more sophisticated from Types of Network, Network Interface, Network Building Blocks & Network Software. Now, instead of a string, networks use electrical cables, fiber-optic cables, or wireless signals to connect computers.
What Is a Network?
A network is nothing more than two or more computers connected so that they can exchange information, such as e-mail messages or documents, or share resources, such as disk storage or printers. In most cases, this connection is made via electrical cables that carry the information in the form of electrical signals. But in some cases, other types of connections are used. For example, fiber-optic cables let computers communicate at extremely high speeds by using impulses of light. Wireless networks let computers communicate by using radio signals, so the computers aren’t restricted by physical cables. In addition to the hardware that comprises the network, a network also requires special software to enable communications. In the early days of networking, you had to add this software to each computer on the network. Nowadays, network support is built into all major operating systems, including all current versions of Windows, Macintosh operating systems, and Linux.
Network Building Blocks
All networks, large or small, require specialized network hardware to make them work. For small networks, the hardware may consist of nothing more than a collection of computers that are equipped with network ports, a cable for each computer, and a network switch that all the computers plug in to via the cable. Larger networks probably have additional components, such as routers or repeaters. Small or large, all networks are built from the following basic building blocks:
✦ Client Computers:
The computers that end-users use to access the resources of the network. Client computers are typically computers located on users’ desks. They usually run a desktop version of Windows such as Windows 7, Vista, or XP. Also, the client computers usually run some type of application software such as Microsoft Office. Client computers are sometimes referred to as workstations.
✦ Server Computers:
Computers that provide shared resources, such as disk storage and printers, as well as network services, such as e-mail and Internet access. Server computers typically run a specialized network operating system such as Windows Server 2008 or 2003, NetWare, or Linux, along with special software to provide network services. For example, a server may run Microsoft Exchange to provide e-mail services for the network, or it may run Apache Web Server so that the computer can serve Web pages.
✦ Network Interface:
An interface — sometimes called a network port —
that’s installed in a computer to enable the computer to communicate over a network although, its also a part of types of networks. Almost all network interfaces implement a networking standard called Ethernet. A network interface is sometimes called a NIC, which stands for network
interface cards because in the early days of networking you had to install a separate circuit card in the computer to provide a network
Although separate network cards are rarely required these days, the term NIC is still frequently used to refer to the network interface. It’s still common to install separate network interface cards to provide more than one network interface on a single computer, or to replace a built-in network interface that has malfunctioned without having to replace the entire motherboard.
Computers in a network are usually physically connected using a cable. Although several types of cable have been popular over the years, most networks today use a type of cable called twisted pair, also known by its official designation 10BaseT. The twisted-pair cable can also be referred to simply as copper, to distinguish it from the fiber-optic cable which is used for the highest-speed network connections. Fiber-optic cable uses strands of glass to transmit light signals at very high speeds.
Network cable usually doesn’t connect computers directly to each other. Instead, each computer is connected by cable to a device known as a switch. The switch, in turn, connects to the rest of the network. Each switch contains a certain number of ports, typically 8 or 16. Thus, you can use an eight-port switch to connect up to eight computers. Switches can be connected to build larger networks. Older networks may use a more primitive type of device called a hub instead of a switch.
✦ Wireless Networks:
In many networks, cables and switches are making way for wireless network connections, which enable computers to communicate via radio signals. In a wireless network, radio transmitters and receivers take the place of cables. The main advantage of wireless networking is its flexibility. With a wireless network, which is also a part of types of networks you don’t have to run cables through walls or ceilings, and your client computers can be located anywhere within range of the network broadcast. The main disadvantage of wireless networking is that it’s inherently less secure than a cabled network.
✦ Network software:
Although network hardware is essential, what makes a network work is a software and its also a part of types of networks. A whole bunch of software has to be set up just right to get a network working. Server computers typically use a special network operating system (also known as a NOS) to function efficiently, and client computers need to have their network settings configured properly to access the network.
One of the most important networking choices to make is which network operating system you’ll use on the network’s servers. That’s because much of the task of building a new network and managing an existing one is setting up and maintaining the network operating system on the servers.
A Network also requires special Software to enable communications. In the early days of networking, you had to add this software to each computer on the network. Nowadays, network support is built into all major operating systems, including all current versions of Windows, Macintosh operating systems, and Linux.
If the reality is told, computer networks are a pain to line up. So, why bother? Because the advantages of getting a network make the problem of setting one
up worthwhile. You don’t need to be a Ph.D. to know the advantages of networking. You learned everything you would like to understand the benefits of networking in kindergarten. Networks are all about sharing. Specifically, networks are about sharing three things: information, resources, and applications.
✦ Sharing information: Networks allow users to share information in several alternative ways. the foremost common way of sharing information
is to share individual files. for instance, two or more people can work together on one spreadsheet file or word-processing document. In most networks, an outsized disk drive on a central server computer is about up as a standard cargo area where users can store files to be shared with other users. additionally to sharing files, networks allow users to speak with each other in various ways. for instance, messaging applications let network users exchange messages with one another using an e-mail application such as Microsoft Outlook. Users also can hold online meetings over the network. In fact, with inexpensive video cameras and therefore the right software, users can hold videoconferences over the network.
✦ Sharing resources: Certain computer resources, like printers or hard drives, are often found out so that network users can share them. Sharing these resources may result in significant cost savings. for instance, it’s cheaper buy one high-speed printer with advanced features like collating, stapling, and duplex printing which will be shared by a whole workgroup than it’s to shop for separate printers for every user within the group. Hard drives also can be shared resources. Providing users with access to a shared disk drive is the commonest method of sharing files on a network. A computer whose main purpose in life is to host shared hard drives is named a digital computer. In actual practice, entire hard drives aren’t usually shared. Instead, individual folders on a networked disk drive are shared. This way, the network administrator can allow different network users to possess access to different shared folders. for instance, a corporation may found out shared folders for its sales division and accounting department. Then, sales personnel can access the sales department’s folder, and accounting personnel can access the accounting department’s folder. you’ll share other resources on a network. for instance, a network can be wont to share an online connection. within the youth of the Internet, it had been common for every user who required access to the
Internet to possess his or her modem connection. Nowadays, it’s more common for the network to supply a shared, high-speed Internet con-
the section that everybody on the network can access.
✦ Sharing applications: one among the foremost common reasons for networking in many businesses is so that several users can work together on
a single business application. for instance, an accounting department may have accounting software that will be used from several computers at an equivalent time. Or a sales-processing department may have an order-entry application that runs on several computers to handle an outsized volume