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Part 1 - What is Computer Networking?

In the computing universe a network refers to the architecture of setting up and connecting two or more computers for the sole purpose of data sharing. Setting up a network allows the user to share information amongst the different systems. Networks consist of both hardware and software. Let us take a look at the various ways in which a computer network can be classified. Feel free to read the other pages in the tutorial.

Area Networks

There are various ways of classifying a network. One basis is using the geographical area the network covers. Local Area Networks or LANs are basically meant for covering a single house, building or office. Wide Area Networks or WANs on the other hand have a much larger footprint. These may cover districts, states or sometimes the whole world. Therefore, the Internet is considered the largest public WAN.

Network Design

Computer networks also vary a lot in the basic design. We can broadly trace two types of network designs. They are:

  • Client-Server Networks
  • Peer-to-Peer Networks

Client server networks have a centralized computer which has a massive storage. This is known as the server and several computers known as clients are attached to the server. The server holds all the data, be it E-Mails, images, videos, information. A peer to peer network constitutes of the same computers with similar facilities sharing information amongst them.

A network topology represents its layout or structure from the point of view of data flow. In so-called bus networks, for example, all of the computers share and communicate across one common conduit, whereas in a star network, all data flows through one centralized device. Common types of network topologies include bus, star, ring networks and mesh networks.

Network Protocols

Communication languages which are used by the computers connected in a network are referred to as Internet protocols. Another way of classifying computer networks is on the basis of the set of protocols that it supports. Networks often utilize multiple protocols with each protocol supporting specific applications. This in turn increases the flexibility of the network. Popular protocols include TCP/IP, the most common protocol found on the Internet and in home networks.

Let us take a look at the various types of networks based on usage.

Home Networking

Communication languages which are used by the computers connected in a network are referred to as Internet protocols. Another way of classifying computer networks is on the basis of the set of protocols that it supports. Networks often utilize multiple protocols with each protocol supporting specific applications. This in turn increases the flexibility of the network. Popular protocols include TCP/IP, the most common protocol found on the Internet and in home networks.

Business Networks/ SOHO Networks

Small office and home office (SOHO) networks use a similar technology to that of home networks. However, businesses have to tend to additional communication, security considerations and data storage. This requires them to structure their network in a somewhat different way to accommodate both reach and growth.

A home network tends to come under a single LAN. However, due to considerations a SOHO network has multiple LANs.

Companies that have small branches in different areas make use of WAN so that their home computers may be connected to the branch computers. Voice over IP communication, backup technologies and network storage are ubiquitous in businesses. Larger companies also maintain their own Websites called intranets. This enables maximized communication with their clients.

So setting up a network can help a business owner in the following ways:

  • Increasing their reach on a geographic scale
  • Sharing of information amongst different offices
  • Higher security options
  • Far better management because of an organized setup working together in harmony
  • Improved agent-client interaction through Voice over IP connection

So many positive reasons are encouraging business owners to start their own networks in offices or their homes itself. This has been proven by experts to be a sure-shot way of growing your business in leaps and bounds.