What is a network ?

You hear this term a lot.  In business, it means connecting with other people who can help you make your own operation successful.  With computers, it is the method by which the computers in your shop are all tied together, and connect to the Internet.

There are two \”domains\” in your network.  The first is the Wide Area Network ( WAN ) which is the outside world.  It is commonly known as the Internet.  It connects to your system through a modem, which takes the signal from a phone line ( DSL ), or cable connection.  It translates it to a form that can communicate to a computer.

The output of the modem could be connected to a computer, but usually it is connected to a Router.  This little device is where all of the computers plug in.  It allows them to connect with each other, and with the WAN.  When several computers are hooked together through a router, it is a Local Area Network ( LAN ).

One computer may hold a lot of data in storage, and share it with all of the other computers.  This computer is called the Server.  The ones that access it are called Clients, although they are also termed to be workstations.

The key to good performance between the computers is the speed of the network.  Some use cables to connect the computers to the router, and these are fastest.  Routers are rated 10/100, or 10/100/1000.  Computers have network cards, or chips, that determine the speed it can accomodate.  They are also 10/100 or 10/100/1000.  Those that support the Gigabit ( 1000 mbs ) give the best performance.

You can also connect to some routers wirelessly.  This is a slower connection than cable, but may be needed from some locations in the business.  Usually laptops and all-in-ones have wireless connectivity built in, but a cable can also be used.  the speeds are b/g/n with n being the fastest.  New standards are emerging that are even quicker.


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