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Computer networking is the practice of connecting computers together to enable communication and information exchange between them. A computer network is a set of two or more computers. It helps users to communicate more easily.
How does a computer network work?
The basic structures of a computer network are nodes and links. A network node can be described as a communications device, such as a modem, router, etc., or as a data terminal device, such as a device connecting two or more computers. A link in computer networks can be defined as wires or cables or as free space in wireless networks.
The operation of computer networks can simply be defined as rules or protocols that help send and receive data over links that allow computer networks to communicate. Each device has an IP address that identifies the device.
Basic terminology for computer networks
Network: a network is a collection of computers and devices connected together for the purpose of transferring and exchanging information.
Nodes: Nodes are devices connected to a network. They can be computers, servers, printers, routers, switches, and other devices.
Protocol: a protocol is a set of rules and standards that govern the transfer of information over a network. Examples of protocols include TCP/IP, HTTP and FTP.
Topology: Network topology refers to the physical and logical arrangement of nodes in a network. Common network topologies include bus, star, ring, mesh, and tree.
Service provider networks: These types of networks allow you to lease network capacity and functionality from a service provider. Service provider networks include wireless communications and data transmission.
IP address: an IP address is a unique numeric identifier assigned to each device on the network. IP addresses are used to identify devices and enable communication between them.
DNS: Domain Name System (DNS) is a protocol used to translate human-readable domain names (such as www.google.com) into IP addresses that computers can understand.
Firewall: A firewall is a security device used to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. Firewalls are used to protect networks from unauthorized access and other security threats.
Types of business networks
LAN: A Local Area Network (LAN) is a network that covers a small area, such as an office or home. LANs are typically used to connect computers and other devices within a building or campus.
WAN: A wide area network (WAN) is a network that covers a large geographical area, such as a city, country or even the world. WANs are used to interconnect LANs and are typically used for long-distance data transfer.
Cloud networks: cloud networks can be illustrated with the broadband network (WAN), as they can be hosted by public or private cloud providers and cloud networks are available if there is demand for them. Cloud networks consist of virtual routers, firewalls, etc.
These are just some of the basic concepts of computer networks. Networking is a broad and complex field, and there are many other concepts and techniques involved in building and maintaining networks. We will now discuss a few more computer networking concepts.
Open system: a system that is connected to a network and ready to communicate.
Closed system: a system that is not connected to the network and cannot be communicated with.
Network devices, or network hardware, are the physical devices needed to communicate and interact between devices on a computer network. These include routers, switches, hubs, and bridges.
Benefits of computer networks
- You can easily share data between different users or access it remotely if you store it on other connected devices.
- Sharing resources – using network-connected peripherals such as printers, scanners, and copiers, or sharing software between multiple users, saves money.
- Sharing a single internet connection – it is cost-effective and can help protect systems if the network is properly secured.
- Increase storage capacity – you can access files and multimedia files, such as pictures and music, that you store remotely on other computers or network-connected storage devices.
Networking your computers can also help improve communication so that:
- Staff, suppliers, and customers can share information and stay connected more easily.
- Your business can become more efficient – for example, networked access to a shared database can prevent the same data being entered multiple times, saving time, and preventing errors.
- Staff can handle queries and provide better service thanks to customer data sharing.
Cost benefits of data networks
Storing data in one central database can also help reduce costs and increase efficiency. For example:
- Staff can handle more customers in less time because they have shared access to customer and product databases.
- You can centralize network management, reducing the need for IT support.
- You can reduce costs by sharing peripherals and Internet access.
You can reduce errors and improve consistency by having all staff working from the sole source of information. This allows you to give them access to standard versions of manuals and directories and back up data from a single point on a scheduled basis, ensuring consistency.
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