What is a computer network?
A computer network is a collection of interconnected devices that are able to communicate with each other to exchange data and resources. Computers, servers, routers, switches, hubs, and other networking hardware can all be found on a computer network.
Cables, wireless signals, satellite links, and other types of communication media are used to connect these devices to one another. A computer network’s primary function is to make it possible for devices to communicate with one another and share resources like data, printers, and internet connectivity. Depending on their size, networks can be categorized as local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), or global area networks (GAN).
What are types of computer networks?
Computer networks can be broken down into a few distinct categories, namely:
- Local area network (LAN): A LAN is a computer network that connects devices within a small geographic area, such as a single building or a group of buildings.
- Wide area network (WAN): A WAN is a computer network that connects devices over a large geographic area, such as a city or a country.
- Metropolitan area network (MAN): A MAN is a computer network that connects devices within a metropolitan area, such as a city or a region.
- Wireless local area network (WLAN): A WLAN is a LAN that uses wireless technology, such as WiFi, to connect devices.
- Home network: A home network is a LAN that connects devices within a single household.
- Virtual private network (VPN): A VPN is a network that uses the internet to connect devices in different locations as if they were on a private network.
- Cloud computing network: A cloud computing network is a network that provides access to remote servers that host applications and data, allowing users to access and use these resources as if they were on their own local computers.
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) network: In a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, each node serves as both a client and a server, enabling users to share resources directly among themselves without going via a centralized hub.
Advantages and disadvantages of computer networks
There are several advantages and disadvantages of computer networks:
- Computer networks enable devices to share resources, like printers, data storage, and internet connectivity, which can help users save time and money.
- Better communication: Computer networks enable users to speak with one another via a variety of channels, including email, instant messaging, and video conferencing, which can increase productivity and collaboration.
- Efficiency gain: By enabling real-time information access and sharing, computer networks can make business operations more effective by removing the need for paper-based correspondence and manual data entry.
- Enhanced security: By enabling managers to restrict access to network resources and implement security measures like firewalls and antivirus software, computer networks can improve security.
- Complexity: Setting up and maintaining computer networks can be challenging and call for specialized tools and knowledge.
- Computer networks are susceptible to cyberthreats including malware, hacking, and phishing attempts, which can jeopardize the network’s security and the integrity of its data.
- Dependency on network infrastructure: Computer networks are reliant on the dependability and accessibility of the network infrastructure, which includes servers, routers, and cables. These components are susceptible to failure due to malfunctioning hardware or physical damage.
- Cost: For large enterprises in particular, setting up and maintaining a computer network may be expensive.