Computer networking has a huge scope across the globe. It is a skill that is required in almost every sector. In this article, we will discuss the definition of computer networking, its importance, and the key concepts and terms in networking.
Computer networking is one of the fastest-growing fields today. If you are a beginner and plan to enter this domain, then it can offer you extensive career opportunities. A strong understanding of networking concepts can help showcase your knowledge and make you a strong candidate for networking roles. In this blog on networking basics, we will cover the latest concepts and technologies to give you a solid foundation in networking.
Table of Contents
- What is a Computer Network?
- Types of Computer Networks
- What is Network Topology?
- What is a Network Device?
- Networking Basics: Important Terms and Concepts
- Frequently Asked Questions
Let us get started with understanding networking basics.
What is a Computer Network?
A computer network refers to a set of devices (or hosts) that are interconnected to exchange information (data) and resources.
In simple terms, a computer network is a collection of multiple computer systems linked together. A network connection can be wired (using cable) or wireless. We can establish a computer network using hardware (cables, routers, switches, access points, etc.) and software (operating systems or business applications).
The term networking refers to connecting computers so that they can share files, applications, printers, and other computer-related resources.
Learn more about computer networking, read our post – What is Networking?
Types of Computer Networks
Computer networks are divided into different categories:
1. Based on the communication medium
- Wired Network: It uses cables to connect devices, such as laptops or desktop PCs, to the Internet or another network. The different types of cables used in computer networks include coaxial, fiber optic, Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP), Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) cable, etc.
- Wireless Network: Computer networks that are not connected by any kind of cable are called wireless networks. These networks establish use Radio Frequency (RF) connections between nodes in the network. Examples include laptops with WLAN cards and TV remotes.
- There are three types of deployment to create a wireless network: centralised, converged, and cloud-based.
2. Based on the Geographical Area
- Local Area Network (LAN): It is a set of computers connected in a small geographical or physical area such as a building, office, or college. LANs are usually privately owned and managed.
- Metropolitan Area Network (MAN): It is a larger version of LAN that spans over a bigger geographical area, such as a town or a city. It can be used for connecting various offices of the same organization that are spread over a city.
- Wide Area Network (WAN): WAN is the largest network that spans countries, continents, or the globe. For example, the Internet is the largest WAN that connects billions of computers worldwide.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN): It is a secure, point-to-point connection between two network endpoints. It extends a private network across a public network, allowing users to exchange data across shared or public networks as if their systems were directly connected to the private network.
- A VPN creates an encrypted channel that keeps identity, credentials, and data exchanged inaccessible to hackers.
Must Read – MAN Full Form in Computer Networking
3. Based on the Type of Architecture
- Peer-to-Peer network: In this network, all the computers are connected with similar capabilities and configurations. It is typically used for small environments that have up to 10 computers.
This network does not have a dedicated central server. Special privileges are provided to each computer for sharing the resources. However, this can result in problems if the computer with the resource is down.
- Client/Server Network: In this network, each computer or process is either a client or a server. End users (clients) can access the resources from a central computer known as the server. All the clients in this network communicate with each other through a server. The server manages all the resources, such as files, directories, printers, network traffic, etc.
- Hybrid Networks: This network is a combination of client-server and peer-to-peer architecture. For example, Torrent.
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What is Network Topology?
Network topology refers to the arrangement of the links and nodes of a network. A node is a device that can send, receive, store, or forward data while a link connects nodes. A link can be cabled or wireless.
Some of the common network topologies include:
- Bus Topology: Each device is directly connected to the main cable. Data transmits from one end to another in a single direction.
- Ring Topology: Nodes are connected in a loop (ring structure). Every device has exactly two neighbours. it forms a ring connecting devices with its exactly two neighbouring devices.
- Star Topology: A cable connects Every device to a single central hub. The hub is the central node. All other nodes are connected to the central node.
- Mesh Topology: In a mesh network, every device is connected to another device through a particular channel.
- Tree Topology: It is a variation of star topology. It has a parent-child hierarchical flow of data in which star networks are interconnected through bus networks.
- Fully-connected Topology: There is a direct path between any two nodes.
Also Read: What is the Difference Between LAN and WAN?
What is a Network Device?
Various devices (mediums) help communicate between different hardware used in the computer network. These mediums are called network devices or networking hardware. Some commonly used network devices include:
A router is a network switching device that sends the information in data packets between networks. It analyzes data within the packets to identify the best way for the information to reach the destination.
A switch connects devices within a network. It also forwards data packets between those devices. A switch sends data to the single device it is intended for (it could be another switch, a router, or a user’s computer) and not to networks of multiple devices.
The term switching refers to how data is transferred between devices in a network. There are three types of switching:
- Circuit switching
- Packet switching
- Message switching
It is a physical layer networking device that connects multiple devices in a network. It is typically used to connect computers in a LAN. A hub has multiple ports in it.
A bridge helps connect multiple hosts or network segments. It stores and forwards frames between the different segments that the bridge connects. A bridge works only at the physical and data link layers of the OSI model.
A modem transmits digital signals over analogue telephone lines. It converts digital signals into analogue signals of different frequencies and transmits them to a modem at the receiving location. The modem at the receiving end performs the reverse function and sends a digital output to the device connected to the modem.
Networking Basics: Important Terms and Concepts
Here are some other important common terms and concepts in computer networking:
IP (Internet Protocol) Address
It is a unique number assigned to each device connected to a network. This unique address identifies a device on the internet or a local network. Every IP address holds information related to the device’s host network and the location of the device on the host network. It is a unique identifier that enables devices to send or receive data packets across the internet.
A node refers to any physical device or a connection point within a network that can send, receive, create, or store information. It is a network device that recognises, processes, and transmits information to any other network node. For example -computers, printers, modems, and switches.
OSI, or Open Systems Interconnection, is a model that specifies the different layers that computer systems use to communicate over a network. This reference model describes standards for communications protocols and the functionalities of each layer.
It is a set of rules defining how data is transmitted between devices in the same network. Protocols enable connected devices to communicate with each other, irrespective of any difference in their design or internal processes. Some common examples of protocols are IP, TCP, UDP, and FTP.
In this networking basics guide, we learned what is networking and the important terms, technologies, and concepts used in networking. We hope you found this article on networking basics informative. To learn more about starting a career in networking, read our blog, How to Learn Networking from Scratch.
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What are the advantages of a wireless network?
The advantages of wireless networks are: 1. They are easier to set up. 2. Do not require cables. 3. Beneficial for both home and public networks. Wider reach than wired networks
What are the disadvantages of a wireless network?
The disadvantages of wireless networks are: 1. They are slower than wired networks 2. Less secure 3. Limited bandwidth 3. High installation cost
What is the use of TCP?
TCP is a communication standard that allows application programs and computing devices to exchange messages over the network. It is used for sending packets across the internet and ensures the successful delivery of messages and data over the networks.
Are TCP and IP the same?
No, both are separate computer network protocols. IP obtains the address to which we need to send the data whereas TCP ensures that the data is delivered once the IP address is located.
What is the basic difference between TCP and HTTP?
TCP identifies and tells the destination system about the system that should receive the data. It also ensures the proper delivery of the data. On the other hand, HTTP searches and locates the required document.
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