What is a Computer Network?


No doubt you hear the term “computer network” being bandied about all the time by tech workers and others who understand computers.  However, do you really know what that term means?  Do you understand what a computer network actually is, how it works, and what types of computer networks there are?  Since the modern world runs on networks, it only makes sense to have a basic understanding of these concepts.


What is a Computer Network?

Simply put, a network is a system set up so that various computers and other devices (known as “peripherals”) can communicate with each other.  These networks can be very small in size–with only one or two computers–to very large networks that encompass millions of computers.  In fact, the Internet itself is a type of network!


What Types of Networks are There?

The main differences in network types are how large they are, and which computers are allowed to access them.  A single computer, hooked up to a printer, hard drive, and other personal peripherals, makes up a type of network called a PAN, or Personal Area Network.  This is the smallest type of network.  Most offices, and even many households, have what is called a LAN, or Local Area Network. This is a network comprised of two or more local computers, all of which can talk to each other.  Networks like this can even be larger, all the way up to WANs, which stands for Wide Area Networks, which can consist of an entire geographical area.  And then, of course, the Internet is a network that really is comprised of many, many smaller networks all talking together.


How Do Networks Work?

Setting up a network is simply explained.  To make a network, you need three main components.  The first thing you need is a node.  A “node” is basically a connection point that sends and receives information.  A computer is an example of a node.  The second thing you need is a network card that tells computers how to talk to each other.  Nowadays, these are usually included as standard on any new computer.  Finally, you need a link, a way to connect them together.  This link can come in the form of an ethernet cable, a wifi signal, or other devices.

Of course, there is more to it than that, especially when you start dealing with large networks.  In those cases, you need other devices to help multiple computers communicate at once and access different areas.  Still, this basic rundown should give you a good start when it comes to what goes into making a successful computer network.

Need help with your computer network? West County Computers can help. Our Santa Rosa computer company has years of experience building strong safe computer networks.

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