What is a Computer Network?

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Fundamentals of Computer Networking?

A computer network is a collection of two or more computers that have been linked together in such a way that they are able to share each others resources such as music, picture files, other documents even printers. The network can be connected using wires or radio waves.

In fact, the largest network in the world is the Internet. The Internet makes the world wide web possible and allows us to be able to surf websites such as Amazon or YouTube and have email, chat, etc.

How Big Can a Network Be?

Computer networks come in many different sizes for instance, a peer-to-peer network is the most basic of networks involving connecting just two computers that can share resources. Networks are generally classified according to size. Listed below are some network types based upon size:

  • Local Area Networks (LAN)
  • Wide Area Networks (WAN)
  • Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN)
  • Personal Area Networks (PAN)

Types of Networks

A network topology the term used to describe the way computer networks and network resources are connected. Here are the most common network topologies:

  • Bus Network
  • Ring Network
  • Star Network

Components Needed for a Basic Network

A basic network consists of the following:

  • At least two computers
  • Network Interface Cards (wired or wireless) to connect the PC’s
  • Network cable if wired network
  • A network hub, router or switch

The computer network cards are required so that one computer can package up and communicate with each other. At least a hub is needed so the two computers can send and receive transmissions from one another. Hubs, switches and routers are devices designed to connect computers to each other and to increase the size of the computer network.

Wired versus Wireless

In a computer network, two computers can easily be connected using network cabling, a set of Ethernet cards at a very small cost.  Note, as the number of computers in an office or a home increases, so do the number of cables, sometimes wireless networking can be a better solution.

In wireless networking radio trans-receivers or infrared signals are used to communicate between computers and devices. Examples of wireless networking include Wi-fi and Bluetooth technology. However, wireless networks do have some drawbacks, the biggest being the security issues involved in when wireless networking. But, security has been greatly improved and wireless definitely has a stronger preference nowadays, especially among consumers building home networks.

Computer Networks are a New Dimension to the 21st Century

How we use networks today and to research information, shop and communicate with each other, has all been made possible due to computer networks. They have revolutionized how we do business, communicate with each other, research and even express ourselves in this modern age.