What is Networking?

As you know, networking is widely used for accessing, managing and sharing information; for example web browsing, downloading, uploading, file sharing, printer sharing, etc. Today networking is popular with private and business users across the globe.

In today’s world, it can be extremely difficult to live without networks, since resource sharing (printers, shared folders etc) and Internet connectivity have become an integral part of our daily activities.

A computer network, often simply referred to as a network, is a collection of computers and other hardware components interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information).

Networking is widely used for sharing of resources and information & for communication purposes. Networks can also help in reducing costs; for example you can buy a single printer and share it across multiple users.

Network consists of one or more computers or devices connected in order to provide and access resources. Resources include a range of devices (example, Printer, CDROM, Hard Drives, etc.) and services (example, web service, mail service, etc.).

Networks based on size are classified into LAN & WAN.

LAN ( Local Area Network)

LAN stands for Local Area Network and refers to group of computers networked within a limited geographical area such as schools, colleges, offices, etc.

WAN ( Wide Area Network)

WAN stands for Wide Area Network and refers to computers networked across geographical areas, in other words they connect LAN’s between different locations For example, computers or devices in a branch office could connect to the computer networks at the head office through telephone lines or satellites.

Ways to form a computer Network

There are several ways to form a network as listed below:

  • Use a cross-over cable (also referred to as Peer-to-peer cable)
  • Use Serial and Parallel ports
  • Use Bluetooth
  • Use WI-Fi (for more than two computers)
  • Use Hub or Network Switch (for more than two computers)
  • SOHO Router or Wi-Fi Router (Commonly found in home & small business networks)

Though technically it is possible to connect computers using the above mentioned options, practices such as using a crossover cable, Wi-Fi or a network switch are most common methods. The technology or option choice is generally based on the number of connections, speed and distance constraints.

Networking Models

Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

This is usually meant for a maximum of 10-20 computers. Herein, each computer (can act both as a server as well as a client. P2P networks are simple to setup and use, normally home and small office networks fall in this category. P2P networks are also referred to as the Workgroup model and have their own security database i.e User accounts are present on each and every computer on a network.

Client /Server

These are large networks with 10 to hundreds of computers and may have dedicated servers and devices. Office networks that require centralized security and administration fall in this category. Common servers on these networks include File Servers, Print Servers, Messaging Servers, Database Servers, Domain controllers,

Note: Clients are referred to as Service Requestors" and Servers as Service Providers. Any machine that reque service is called as the client and machines that fulfill the requests is called the server.

Networks can have a combination of both Client/Server models and Peer-to-peer. For example, you may be using a centralized mail server and/or access files from other machines in the network.

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