Generally, a computer network relates to a group of computers which are interlinked with each other in order to share resources and information. Its most significant uses are data storage and communication.
It does not only include desktop or laptop computers, but also several technical and electronic devices, which are required to serve the purpose of data sharing, data transmission, and data communication.
It comprises equipment, such as web servers, databases, perplexed wiring, cables, connections, and many other advanced devices. All major operations in a computer network are controlled from a place known as the data center, which is the server room.
This room consists of all the important equipment, which are required to keep the network operations running smoothly. If anything in the server room goes wrong, it has a negative effect on the complete computer network.
A network can be thousands of interconnected computers in a large corporate office, or it can even be two interlinked desktop computers for the purpose of sharing media and other information. The Internet is also a kind of network, and is undoubtedly the largest, which is why it is known as the network of networks.
Types of Networks
There are many kinds of networks, and they are normally identified by abbreviations and acronyms, which give an idea about the functions they perform.
Personal Area Network (PAN)
- A PAN is a network which has a short range, and is intended for carrying out data communication between several different devices.
- Owing to its short range, it is not used in corporate offices, where data communication has to be widespread.
- Its use is only meant for connecting a small number of devices or computers, which can usually be found in one's home.
- Wireless networking or Bluetooth technology are some examples of the Personal Area Network (PAN).
Local Area Network (LAN)
- This type is plausibly the most commonly-used network all over the globe.
- It relates to a group of interlinked computers, which are positioned in a single physical location.
- It can be extremely huge, covering an entire office; or very small, connecting some computers in a house.
- It may be wired or wireless, or might employ both types of communication.
- Since all the interconnected computers and devices are placed in a single location, LAN generally allows for faster and effective data connection.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
- This one has a greater operation range, and consists of a huge computer network, which is spread over a large area.
- The internet technology is the perfect model of the Wide Area Network (WAN).
- Another good model would be a network of a transnational company with huge offices in various regions and countries of the world.
- This type of network allows an employee of a company to easily access data and resources, which are stored on other computers in a different country.
- If WAN breaks down, there can be a stoppage in the worldwide operations of the company.
Types of Hardware Used in a Network
Network Interface Cards (NIC)
A network interface card, also known as a network adapter, is a very important component installed in a computer, which is responsible for connecting a particular computer to a network.
A switch is an equipment responsible for undertaking the forwarding and filtering of data based on the Media Access Control (MAC) address of the network cards involved in communication.
This device is similar to a switch, however, it is incapable of filtrating the data packets based on their MAC address, and instead, sends all packets to all devices. It generally has a better performance value on a computer network.
A router is the primary device responsible for connecting multiple networks together. It connects the computer to the internet, and functions at the third layer of the OSI model.
This will give you a general idea of a computer network and its related components. Undertaking networking courses will help you gain a deeper insight into the subject, beyond the basics.