After completing this section you should be able to:
- explain what is meant by a network
- define a Local Area Network and discuss its advantages and disadvantages
- define a Wide Area Network and discuss its advantages and disadvantages
- describe the software and devices that make up a network, including cables, connectors and network cards, and typical hardware devices
- explain the features of the four main ways of laying out a network: ring, line, star and hierarchical
Communication between two or more computer systems is achieved by setting up a network. The computer systems are linked so that they can ‘talk’ to each other, share computing power and/or storage facilities. You should know the benefits of networking computers and the
main types of networks.
The link may be between computers in one building, or it could be between computers in different parts of the world. The term network includes the individual computer systems, the connections and the hardware that allows communication to happen. Exam questions often ask for the difference
between LANs and WANs.
A network may include a dedicated file server. This is normally one computer in the network that has a much higher specification than the others, with a very large hard disk drive. All data common to the network will be held on the dedicated server. It will also monitor and control the network and while it is performing this very important task, it will not be available for use as an interactive work station.