Network is a group of two or more computing devices enabled to exchanging data with each other (such as files or messages, printers and other shared peripherals) through a data link. The connections between these devices can be established by means of a cable or wireless media. The computers or devices on a network are called as nodes and the ones that allocate resources are broadly categorized as servers or workstations. There are different types of computer networks which include Local-Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs), Campus-Area Networks (CANs), Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) and Home-Area Networks (HANs).
In the past, 200 years ago the means of communication was sending and receiving letters through postal services. Today, the technology has changed the way how we communicate and live our lives from sending and receiving emails to telephone calls and sharing information to remotely accessing systems through internet. Though the concept of networks has revolutionized into our lives many years ago, it is in the recent times computer networks has gained popularity and became accessible to everyone.
Local Area Network (LAN) is a network, confined to a small area i.e. in the same building, schools, colleges or limited to a geographical area.
Wide Area Network (WAN) is a connection established among the computers covering large geographical distance through telecommunication circuits or radio waves.
Campus Area Networks CANs is an interconnection of local networks limited to certain geographical distance; it is mostly preferred in military campus or in university buildings.
Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) is a network designed for a city or town; to be more precise, it is an interconnection of all the networks and sub-networks in a city forming a single larger network. And, the geographical area covered by MAN network is even larger than the large LAN and even smaller than the area covered by a Wide Area Network (WAN).
Home Area Networks (HANs) is a network established among all the internet enabled devices at home.
Apart from these types of networks there are certain characteristics which are used to differentiate types of networks.
• Topology—is nothing but the geometric arrangement of systems and shape of a network. It can be either physical or logical. The common topologies used are bus topology, star, tree and ring topology.
• Protocol—is a set of rules followed by computers on a network to communicate. Ethernet and IBM token-ring network are the most commonly used LAN protocols for PCs and LANs.
• Architecture—Networks can be broadly classified based on types of architectures either a peer-to-peer or client/ server architectures.
Since communication is vital in our day-to-day life, it is understood that linking computers is very useful for exchanging information very effectively. It can serve several distinctive purposes like sharing files, communication through emails, sharing resources to a specific group of people on a network. Let’s have a glimpse of advantages the network systems provides:
Lowers cost due to sharing computer peripherals and data between users
Files can be backed up more easily on a central workstation
Ensuring security to the files and applications by providing access only to certain people
More efficient communication and organization
Buying a single software license is cheaper than several standalone licenses.
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