Networking and Why it May Make Sense For You
Modern management needs information as fast as it can get it, and computers
make it readily available. However, once a company gets its first one, it's not long before there
are queues of people wanting to use it. The next step, of course, is to get one for each person
in the queue, and to stop them wasting time by walking round the office to exchange floppy disks
(and save money by making them share printers or programs), it's not long before the computers
are joined together.
This is a common scenario, and many businesses grow to need computer systems
capable of accepting and processing information from several users at the same time - a typical
example is an accounts system which is fed with data from several operators at different
terminals all day.
They're beginning to be useful at home as well; many people find when
they buy the latest PC that their previous one is worth so little they may as well keep it. At
the very least, it can provide extra storage space and can even be used by another member of the
family - with Windows 98 (2nd Edition) both machines can use the Internet at the same time by
sharing the connection. Another good reason for having a small network is the lack of room for
devices in the average PC. If you've got a lot of equipment to shoehorn into a machine, it can
make sense to spread it over 2 PCs and join them together.
A network therefore provides
convenience, cost-saving and security, because everything is in one place and can be backed up
easily, although you have to make sure that the network's performance is at least equal to that
of the machine where the work is being done - people will soon get fed up if they have to wait
for data to come over the cable when it would be miles quicker off their local hard drive, so
there is a danger that documents could be out of sync as people keep their own versions. In the
early days, NetWare's delivery was considerably quicker than anything the average workstation
could come up with, but it's not the case now.
So, to sum up, a network exists where a
number of PCs are connected together to share a resource, which could be a printer, or data on a
hard disk. The reasons for doing so could be down to cost, productivity or both. In fact, the
combined processing power of the PCs has made networks a viable alternative to minicomputers in
many companies. The most distinguishing characteristic of a network is that data can enter or
leave at any point and be processed at any workstation or any printer, for instance, should be
useable from any word processor by any person at any computer on the network.
network is to do with a single location (usually a building, or one or two floors in one), it is
known as a Local Area Network, or LAN. A Wide Area Network, or WAN, on the other hand, can spread
over city or international boundaries, and usually has a third party (such as a telephone
company) involved in making it work. As some internal systems (like in a university) can cover
several miles without anyone else's assistance, distance alone is no indication of whether a
network is Local or Wide Area. The best example of a WAN is The Internet.
between is a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN), which operates over the area of a city, or within a
50km boundary, with fiber optics at 100 Mbps. Nodes are connected over 2 km distances, but this
appears to have been superseded by the Internet, according to the N+ exam.
This is an article from
Phil Croucher, author
of Communications and Networks.
Phil has a way of explaining in "plain" English. The information is well presented and
is well above A+ standard.