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What is a computer network? The simple answer is that when two or more computing devices are connected by cable or wireless, a computer network is produced. In this article, you will get the perfect answer to the question “What is a computer network”, types of computer networks, their applications, and some common terms in the field of networking.
What is Network?
A network is a collection of people or objects that work together in a well-planned and intelligent way to achieve a specific goal. The most important principle in any network is information sharing and exchange.
By sharing information among the members of the network, helps to achieve the specified goal more quickly and accurately. Moreover, a network has no time or space constraints.
What is Computer Network?
Computer networks are one of the most important pillars of information technology. In short, computer networks are a group of interconnected computers. These computers can be PC or servers that are connected to each other via devices such as switches and routers to form a computer network.
But nowadays, many other devices, including CCTV systems, VoIP-based phones, tablets, smartphones, and game consoles, can connect to the network. Even more than that, the Internet of Things (IoT) provides the ability to connect anything to computer networks. So it’s better to say for the next few years, “We can’t find anything today that doesn’t deal with computer networks.”
Components Of A Computer Network
As stated earlier, a computer network is a collection of interconnected computers, so we divide these components of a computer network into three general categories:
- Connecting devices (client computers, servers)
- Devices that provide the possibility of connection (switches and routers)
- Media that allows the possibility of physical connection between these devices (cables and waves)
In the following, we will explain these components in general:
- Client: The term client refers to devices used by end-users. For example, personal computers (PCs), laptops (laptops), tablets (Tablets), and other such devices are considered clients. Of course, a more professional definition of a client is to interpret it as a client point in computer networks.
- Server: Powerful computers that, as their name implies, are responsible for servicing computer networks. Services such as Web, Email, File Server, etc.
- Switch: The job of a switch is to connect the various components of a computer network to each other and exchange traffic between them. This traffic exchange is done by the switch, in layer 2 (Data Link) and based on MAC Address.
- Router: The application of a router is to connect different computer networks to each other. This connection and the decision to exchange traffic between computer networks is made based on the IP Address and Routing Table of a router.
- Media: For physical connection between all the devices mentioned above, you need to use communication media that can be copper cables, fiber optics, or radio waves in wireless networks.
- WAN Link: To connect a computer network to the World Wide Web or other wide area networks such as the national information network in our beloved country, a communication gateway must be provided. This port can be through ADSL, MPLS, or other technologies.
Purpose Of Computer Networks
The purpose of creating computer networks is to create connections and resource sharing. This connection can be between a computer and a server on an organization network or connecting a laptop to the Internet via WiFi technology.
Sharing a printer and a file sharing on a computer network, accessing office automation software on the Web, and Sending e-mail (E-mail), are some of the important facilities that computer networks provide to us.
Also, with the help of various VoIP and Video Conferencing technologies, it is possible to have audio and video communication on the computer network.
Functions Of Computer Network
Computer networks may be branches of electrical engineering, telecommunications, computer science, information technology, or computer engineering. Because these disciplines are based on theoretical and practical science.
- A computer network facilitates interpersonal communication and allows users to communicate more effectively and easily through a variety of solutions. Such as email, Messenger, Online chat, Phone, Video communication, and Video conference.
- Another function of a computer network is that it allows us to share computing and information resources for the use of users and other software. Such as printing a document by a shared printer or storing information on a device on the network.
- A network allows us to share a variety of information and files in a variety of formats and documents for other systems and users on the network, creating access levels for each person or system.
- Distributed computing systems in the network use the resource computing system or server to calculate and perform the tasks necessary to buy and read several books.
- Computer networks can affect the survival of the environment. Thanks to the computer network and the Internet, we can access a large amount of information with just a little time and without the need to cut down trees to produce paper.
- Thanks to the integrated storage of information, we no longer have to worry about deleting or losing our information. Our data is kept completely secure on the server and a backup is made of it.
- The distance between different branches in a factory, organization, or company no longer makes sense. Because the computer network and the presence of network equipment can shorten the distances and cause a secure exchange of information between employees.
Applications Of Computer Network
Computer networks have many uses. Including:
- File And Application Sharing: Users can share their files and applications over the network. Today, relatively new phenomena such as online collaboration and telecommuting are taking advantage of this feature of networks.
- Hardware Sharing: In a computer network, hardware such as printers and hard disks can be shared with network users.
- Voice Over IP (VoIP): Users can communicate with other VoIP voice users using computer networks and the Internet Protocol (IP).
- Communication: Users can communicate with each other by text, video, and audio using computer networks.
- E-Commerce: Users can buy and sell goods using computer networks.
Computer networks are divided into different types according to different indicators. For example, they can be divided into several species in terms of connectivity or physical topology, as well as in terms of geographical area.
Types Of Computer Networks
There are different types of computer networks and they are classified according to different criteria. But in general computer networks are divided into three general groups based on size.
- LAN or Local Area Network
- MAN or Metropolitan Area Networks
- WAN or Wide Area Network
Local Area Network or LAN
LAN or Local Area Network is the smallest type of computer network. A LAN is used to communicate between the computers of a company, school, residential or commercial building. In general, LANs are limited in terms of geographical location and number of computers.
Local area networks or LANs are set up to transmit data within a small set of computers. LANs use technologies such as Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) and WiFi (IEEE 802.11). So you do not need to get a license from anywhere or coordinate with telecommunications to set up a LAN.
You can easily buy a few meters of cable, a few network cards, and a switch, and easily connect a computer bag. Computers within a school, shop, company, cafe, etc. work in the form of a LAN.
LANs are very cheap, very fast, and less likely to cause errors and problems. In addition, if there is a problem with a LAN, it is very easy and fast to troubleshoot
Metropolitan Area Network or MAN
MAN or Metropolitan Area Networks are larger than LANs and can cover an area of the size of a city (or larger). In fact, it can be said that a MAN network is formed by connecting several LAN networks to each other.
To set up a MAN network, you must coordinate with the Radio Communications Regulatory Authority and obtain the necessary permits. The MAN network connects several LANs.
For example, imagine a company that has 10 branches in the city. A MAN network must be set up to connect the employees of these branches. By setting up a MAN network, the local network of each branch can be connected to other branches.
MAN networks are slower than LAN, more likely to fail, and naturally more difficult to troubleshoot. The cost of setting up MAN networks is relatively high and only affordable for companies and organizations.
Wide Area Network or WAN
The WAN or Wide Area Network is the largest and most complex type of network. The area covered by WANs is the size of the country or even the continent. As is typical of WAN networks, requires a lot of legal licenses.
And it can be said that only governments and very large companies can get these licenses. WANs actually connect organizations’ local area networks to the Internet. The Internet is the largest WAN in the world.
Transmission speeds in global networks (WANs) are much slower than MAN and LAN networks but have a wide coverage range. In other words, in a WAN network, a user in Pakistan can communicate with another user in another country like UK and exchange Information or have an Internet telephone conversation (such as Viber, Telegram, etc.).
Unfortunately, in WANs, the error rate is very high and the system is more difficult to troubleshoot.