You have probably heard of networks and networking, and you may even be using one right now, what exactly is a computer network? And why would someone want to set one up or be part of one?
What is a Network?
A network is basically a set of two or more articles that are linked so the computers can share resources, such as printers, software, and internet connections. Networked computers can also share files without having to transfer data using a disk or data key. And users of networked computers can also communicate electronically without use of the internet.
Computers within a network can be linked several ways: though cables, telephone lines, radio waves, satellites, or infrared beams. There are also three basic types of networks: Local Area Networks (LANs), Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), and Wide Area Networks (WANs).
Local Area Networks
A Local Area Network (LAN) is basically a smaller network that’s confined to a relatively small geographic area. LAN computers are rarely more than a mile apart. Examples of common LANs are networked computers within a writing lab, school, or building.
Within a LAN network, one computer is the file server. This means that it stores all software that controls the network, and it also stores the software that can be shared among computers in the network. The file server is the heart of the LAN.
The computers attached to the file server are called workstations. Workstations can be less powerful than the file server because they don’t have to store as many files and applications as the file server, and they are not always on and working to keep the network up and running. However, workstations may also have additional software stored on their hard drives. Most LANS are connected using cables.
Metropolitan Area Networks
A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) connect 2 or more LANs together but does not span outside the boundaries of a city, town, or metropolitan area. Within this type of network is also the Campus Area Network (CAN), which is generally smaller than a MAN, connecting LANs within a limited functional area, like a college campus, military base, or industrial complex.
Wide Area Networks
Wide Area Networks connect larger geographic areas. Often, smaller LANs are interconnected to form a large WAN. For instance, an office LAN in Los Angeles may be connected to office LANs for the same company in New York, Toronto, Paris, and London to form a WAN spanning the whole company. The individual offices are no longer part of individual LANs, they are instead part of a worldwide WAN.
The connection of this type of network is complicated. WANs are normally connected using multiplexers connect local and metropolitan networks to global communications networks like the Internet.