Essentially, a computer network is a system where multiple computers are inter-connected in order to share information, resources and exchange data. The computers are usually linked together through communication channels to facilitate communication and resource sharing among a large amount of users. The many functionalities of networks include:
1. Facilitating communication via email, Skype etc
2. Allowing file sharing across the network
3. Increaasing ease of access of information that's shared among users of the network
The best known computer network is the Internet. Computer networks facilitate the use of a large amount of software and services such as access to shared hardware such as fax machines, digital video and audio files etc. There is a certain amount of hardware that one needs to set up a computer network and these include items such as:
1.Network cables: These are the wires and cables used to connect computers to each other and involve cables such as the commonly used RJ-45.
2.Distributors: A distributor is more of a central item used to connect many computers to each other and streamline the process. If everything was connected to each other directly using ports, it would cause a lot of confusion and mess, this is where distributors come in to make everything easier. All the shared hardware such as scanners and fax machines are also connected to this distributor to allow the computers on the shared network to access them.
3.Routers: Routers are hardware devices which sort of acts like the leader in a computer network. It is the most central point of a computer network and computers and other hardware devices that have to be on the internet all have to be connected to the router. Routers are used to exchange data between network by forwarding discrete amounts of data known as packets.
4.Modems: Modems are used to modulate and demodulate the signals in a computer network and are used to help signals convert into the form necessary for transmission.
There are many layouts that computer networks can make use of and these all affect the inter-connectivity of the computers with each other. Different layouts have different levels of reliability. Some common network layouts or topologies are: bus networks, star networks, ring networks, mesh networks, fully connected networks and tree networks. The network topology matters a lot because if a signal fails, a bad network topology won't be able to recover, causing the whole network to fail. However, more intricate layouts require more money to install. So, the goal is to achieve the maximum amount of reliability while maintaining an acceptable price i.e the goal is to use the most efficient topology for the situation.
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