The Concept of Networks

The generic term network refers to a group of entities (i.e. objects, people, etc.) that are connected to one another. A network, therefore, allows material or immaterial elements to be circulated among all of these entities, based on well-defined rules. A network, as far as this article is concerned, is a group of computers and peripheral devices connected to one another. Note that the smallest possible network is two computers connected together. Networking refers to the implementation of tools and tasks for linking computers so that they can share resources over the network. This article will introduce you to this concept and explain to you the different types of networks that exist.

What Is a Network?

Depending on what kind of entity is involved, the term used will differ. A transportation network is a combination of infrastructure and vehicles used for transporting people and goods between different geographic areas. A telephone network is an infrastructure for transporting voice signals from one telephone station to another. A neural network is a group of brain cells connected to one another. A criminal network is a group of con artists in cahoots. A computer network is a group of computers linked to one another with physical lines, exchanging information as digital data (binary values, i.e. values encoded as a signal, which may represent either 0 or 1.)

The article that you're now reading, obviously, deals with computer networks. There isn't just one kind of network, as there have historically been different kinds of computers, which communicate using various different languages. The need for multiple types of networks also arises from the heterogeneity of the physical transmission media that link them together, whether that means the data is transferred the same way (such as by electrical pulses, light beams, or electromagnetic waves) or uses the same kind of physical medium (such as coaxial cable, twisted pairs, or fiber-optic lines).

Each section describes the characteristics of physical transmission media as well as the way that data travels over the network.

How the Networking Sections Are Organized

The networking section of is divided into several chapters.

The concept of networking section describes what a network is and the different types of networks that exist.

The data transmission section is about how each data is transmitted in each type of medium.

The network equipment section describes the different kinds of equipment that are used to connect computers to one another.

The protocols section explains how information is sent over networks, and in particular, over the Internet.

The technologies section lays out the different physical means that can be used to send information In the section.

Why Networks Are Important

A computer is a machine used to manipulate data. Humans, being communicative creatures, quickly understood why it would be useful to link computers to each other in order to exchange information.

A computer network can serve several distinct purposes: sharing resources (e.g. files, applications or hardware, an Internet connection, etc.), communication between people (e.g. e-mail, live discussions, etc.), communication between processes (e.g. between industrial computers), guaranteeing full access to information for a specified group of people (i.e. networked databases), and multiplayer video games.

Networks are also used for standardizing applications. The term groupware is generally used to refer to tools that let multiple people work over a network. For example, email and group scheduling can be used to communicate more quickly and efficiently. Here's a glimpse of the advantages that such systems have: lower costs, due to the sharing of data and of peripherals; standardizing applications; providing timely access to data; and more efficient communication and organization.

Today, with the Internet, networks have become more unified. It is clear, then, that there are several reasons to install a network, whether for a business or for individual use.

Similarities Between Types of Networks

The different types of networks generally have the following points in common: servers, which are computers that provide shared resources to users, by means of a network server; clients, which are computers that access the shared resources provided by a network server; a connection medium, or how the computers are linked together; shared data, or files that can be accessed on the network servers; printers and other shared peripherals, which include files, printers, or other elements employed by the network's users; and miscellaneous resources provided by the server.

Types of Networks

There are usually said to be two types of networks: peer-to-peer networks and networks organized around servers (Client/Server). These two types of networks have different capabilities. Which type of network to install depends on the following criteria: size of the business, level of security required, type of activity, skills of the administrators available, colume of traffic over the network, needs of the network's users, and budget set aside for operating the network (not just purchasing it, but also upkeep and maintenance).

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