what is a computer network

What is a Computer Network?

by Networking Guy

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Simply put, a computer network is a collection of autonomous computers. The definition is as simple as that. More complex definitions can be found on text books and other websites, but I believe in an approach that should make sense in the simplest way.

If you think about computer network, then you should consider the fact that it simple means various computers connected to each other which should facilitate sharing of resources. This article on computer networks will cover only the basics of what all you need to know on a superficial level. Each section will be explained in detail in later articles.

The Need For Computer Networks

As businesses grows, so does the requirements. Companies that start out small grow into large organizations where they have thousands of offices spread across different parts of the globe. Companies needed a cost effective solution for connecting all their businesses in different places and thus computer networks were invented.

In olden times, a single computer used to process all the requirements of a large organization or university. Gone are those days where centralized computing was the norm. With the advent of technology and the reduction in prices of computers, businesses found it more cost effective to have a lot of computers do the job a single computer did. This proved effective in many ways

  1. Higher reliability
  2. Better efficiency
  3. Ability to troubleshoot better
  4. Reduced latency

These computers were collectively termed as computer networks. These computers had the ability to exchange data between them and share resources. Resource sharing was one of the most important features of computer networks. With resource sharing, computers were able to deliver higher return of investment.

To print a document each computer need not have it’s own printer. Any computer in the network could access a printer, even remotely, when free to print the required information. This also increased reliability because if one computer or printer in a network went down, another computer or printer could take it’s place. As uptime is critical for every business, computer networks began to spread fast.

Types of Computer Networks

Here I will list the various types of computer networks. Details will be given in later articles. This is just n overview for you.

  1. Local Area Network or LAN
  2. Metropolitan Area Network or MAN
  3. Wide Area Networks or WAN
  4. Wireless Networks
  5. Internetworks

Computer Network Hardware

Here are some of the common computer hardware devices that we see in a computer network.

  1. Routers
  2. Hubs
  3. Switches
  4. Network Gateways
  5. Network Firewalls
  6. Adapters
  7. Bridges
  8. NIC or Network Interface Card