This Blog begins with a description of computer networks became more & more sophisticated from Types of Network, Network Interface & Network Software. Now, instead of string, networks use electrical cables, fiber-optic cables, or wireless signals to connect computers to each other.
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. In addition, 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 card, because in the early days of networking you actually 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 to each
other using 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. Twisted-pair cable can also be referred to simply as copper, to distinguish it from 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 each other 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 really
makes a network work is software and its also a part of types of networks. A whole bunch of software has to be set up just right in order to get a network working.
Server computers typically use a special network operating system (also known as a NOS) in order to function efficiently, and client computers need to have their network settings configured properly in order 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 in to all major operating systems, including all current versions of Windows, Macintosh operating systems, and Linux.