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What is a computer network?A computer network is any set of computers or devices connected to each other with the ability to exchange data.Examples of different networks are:
All networks are interconnected to allow communication with a variety of different kinds of media, including twisted-pair copper wire cable, coaxial cable, optical fiber, and various wireless technologies. The devices can be separated by a few meters (e.g. via Bluetooth) or nearly unlimited distances (e.g. via the interconnections of the Internet).
Networking is a complex part of computing that makes up most of the IT Industry. Without networks, almost all communication in the world would cease to happen. It is because of networking that telephones, televisions, the internet, etc. work. One way to categorize computer networks is by their geographic scope, although many real-world networks interconnect Local Area Networks (LAN) via Wide Area Networks (WAN)and wireless networks[WWAN]. These three (broad) types are:
Local area network (LAN)A local area network is a network that spans a relatively small space and provides services to a small number of people.
A peer-to-peer or client-server method of networking may be used. A peer-to-peer network is where each client shares their resources with other workstations in the network. Examples of peer-to-peer networks are: Small office networks where resource use is minimal and a home network. A client-server network is where every client is connected to the server and each other. Client-server networks use servers in different capacities. These can be classified into two types:
where the server performs one task such as file server, ; while other servers can not only perform in the capacity of file servers and print servers, but they also conduct calculations and use these to provide information to clients (Web/Intranet Server). Computers are linked via Ethernet Cable, can be joined either directly (one computer to another), or via a network hub that allows multiple connections.
Wide area network (WAN)A wide area network is a network where a wide variety of resources are deployed across a large domestic area or internationally. An example of this is a multinational business that uses a WAN to interconnect their offices in different countries. The largest and best example of a WAN is the Internet, which is a network composed of many smaller networks. The Internet is considered the largest network in the world. The PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) also is an extremely large network that is converging to use Internet technologies, although not necessarily through the public Internet.
A Wide Area Network involves communication through the use of a wide range of different technologies. These technologies include Point-to-Point WANs such as Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) and High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC), Frame Relay, ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and Sonet (Synchronous Optical Network). The difference between the WAN technologies is based on the switching capabilities they perform and the speed at which sending and receiving bits of information (data) occur.
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)A metropolitan network is a network that is too large for even the largest of LAN's but is not on the scale of a WAN. It also integrates two or more LAN networks over a specific geographical area ( usually a city ) so as to increase the network and the flow of communications. The LAN's in question would usually be connected via "backbone" lines.
Wireless networks (WLAN, WWAN)A wireless network is basically the same as a LAN or a WAN but there are no wires between hosts and servers. The data is transferred over sets of radio transceivers. These types of networks are beneficial when it is too costly or inconvenient to run the necessary cables. For more information, see Wireless LAN and Wireless wide area network. The media access protocols for LANs come from the IEEE.
The most common IEEE 802.11 WLANs cover, depending on antennas, ranges from hundreds of meters to a few kilometers. For larger areas, either communications satellites of various types, cellular radio, or wireless local loop (IEEE 802.16) all have advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the type of mobility needed, the relevant standards may come from the IETF or the ITU.