What Is Networking?
Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting.
A network consists of two or more computers that are linked in order to share resources (such as printers and CDs), exchange files, or allow electronic communications. The computers on a network may be linked through cables, telephone lines, radio waves, satellites, or infrared light beams.
A computer network is a system in which multiple computers are connected to each other to share information and resources.
Characteristics of a Computer Network
- Share resources from one computer to another.
- Create files and store them in one computer, access those files from the other computer(s) connected over the network.
- Connect a printer, scanner, or a fax machine to one computer within the network and let other computers of the network use the machines available over the network.
Following is the list of hardware’s required to set up a computer network.
- Network Cables
- Network Cards
- Internal Network Cards
- External Network Cards
- Universal Serial Bus (USB)
Network cables are used to connect computers. The most commonly used cable is Category 5 cable RJ-45.
A computer can be connected to another one via a serial port but if we need to connect many computers to produce a network, this serial connection will not work.
The solution is to use a central body to which other computers, printers, scanners, etc. can be connected and then this body will manage or distribute network traffic.
A router is a type of device which acts as the central point among computers and other devices that are a part of the network. It is equipped with holes called ports. Computers and other devices are connected to a router using network cables. Now-a-days router comes in wireless modes using which computers can be connected without any physical cable.
Network card is a necessary component of a computer without which a computer cannot be connected over a network. It is also known as the network adapter or Network Interface Card (NIC). Most branded computers have network card preinstalled. Network cards are of two types: Internal and External Network Cards.
Internal Network Cards
Motherboard has a slot for internal network card where it is to be inserted. Internal network cards are of two types in which the first type uses Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) connection, while the second type uses Industry Standard Architecture (ISA). Network cables are required to provide network access.
External Network Cards
External network cards are of two types: Wireless and USB based. Wireless network card needs to be inserted into the motherboard, however no network cable is required to connect to the network.
Universal Serial Bus (USB)
USB card is easy to use and connects via USB port. Computers automatically detect USB card and can install the drivers required to support the USB network card automatically.
Why we need computer networks? Need for Computer Networking
communication. Can you imagine a world now without emails, online newspapers, blogs, chat and the other services offered by the internet?
Important uses and benefits of a computer network.
1. File sharing: Networking of computers helps the network users to share data files.
2. Hardware sharing: Users can share devices such as printers, scanners, CD-ROM drives, hard drives etc. Without computer networks, device sharing is not possible.
3. Application sharing: Applications can be shared over the network, and this allows to implement client/server applications
4. User communication: Networks allow users to communicate using e-mail, newsgroups, and video conferencing etc.
5. Network gaming: A lot of network games are available, which allow multi-users to play from different locations.
6. Voice over IP (VoIP): Voice over Internet Protocol (IP) is a revolutionary change in telecommunication which allows to send telephone calls (voice data) using standard Internet Protocol (IP) rather than by traditional PSTN.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Computer Network
Computer networking has become one of the most successful ways of sharing information, where all computers are wirelessly linked together by a common network. Now, businesses and organizations heavily rely on it to get messages and information across to essential channels. Not only has that it benefited establishments, but also individuals, as they also need to share important information every day. But no matter how useful computer networking is, it does not come without drawbacks. Here are its advantages and disadvantages:
Advantages of Computer Networking
1. It enhances communication and availability of information.
Networking, especially with full access to the web, allows ways of communication that would simply be impossible before it was developed. Instant messaging can now allow users to talk in real time and send files to other people wherever they are in the world, which is a huge boon for businesses. Also, it allows access to a vast amount of useful information, including traditional reference materials and timely facts, such as news and current events.
2. It allows for more convenient resource sharing.
This benefit is very important, particularly for larger companies that really need to produce huge numbers of resources to be shared to all the people. Since the technology involves computer-based work, it is assured that the resources they wanted to get across would be completely shared by connecting to a computer network which their audience is also using.
3. It makes file sharing easier.
Computer networking allows easier accessibility for people to share their files, which greatly helps them with saving more time and effort, since they could do file sharing more accordingly and effectively.
4. It is highly flexible.
This technology is known to be very flexible, as it gives users the opportunity to explore everything about essential things, such as software without affecting their functionality. Plus, people will have the accessibility to all information they need to get and share.
5. It is an inexpensive system.
Installing networking software on your device would not cost too much, as you are assured that it lasts and can effectively share information to your peers. Also, there is no need to change the software regularly, as mostly it is not required to do so.
6. It increases cost efficiency.
With computer networking, you can use a lot of software products available on the market which can just be stored or installed in your system or server, and can then be used by various workstations.
7. It boosts storage capacity.
Since you are going to share information, files and resources to other people, you have to ensure all data and content are properly stored in the system. With this networking technology, you can do all of this without any hassle, while having all the space you need for storage.
Disadvantages of Computer Networking
1. It lacks independence.
Computer networking involves a process that is operated using computers, so people will be relying more of computer work, instead of exerting an effort for their tasks at hand. Aside from this, they will be dependent on the main file server, which means that, if it breaks down, the system would become useless, making users idle.
2. It poses security difficulties.
Because there would be a huge number of people who would be using a computer network to get and share some of their files and resources, a certain user’s security would be always at risk. There might even be illegal activities that would occur, which you need to be careful about and aware of.
3. It lacks robustness.
As previously stated, if a computer network’s main server breaks down, the entire system would become useless. Also, if it has a bridging device or a central linking server that fails, the entire network would also come to a standstill. To deal with these problems, huge networks should have a powerful computer to serve as file server to make setting up and maintaining the network easier.
4. It allows for more presence of computer viruses and malware.
There would be instances that stored files are corrupt due to computer viruses. Thus, network administrators should conduct regular check-ups on the system, and the stored files at the same time.
5. Its light policing usage promotes negative acts.
It has been observed that providing users with internet connectivity has fostered undesirable behavior among them. Considering that the web is a minefield of distractions—online games, humor sites and even porn sites—workers could be tempted during their work hours. The huge network of machines could also encourage them to engage in illicit practices, such as instant messaging and file sharing, instead of working on work-related matters. While many organizations draw up certain policies on this, they have proven difficult to enforce and even engendered resentment from employees.
6. It requires an efficient handler.
For a computer network to work efficiently and optimally, it requires high technical skills and know-how of its operations and administration. A person just having basic skills cannot do this job. Take note that the responsibility to handle such a system is high, as allotting permissions and passwords can be daunting. Similarly, network configuration and connection is very tedious and cannot be done by an average technician who does not have advanced knowledge.
7. It requires an expensive set-up.
Though computer networks are said to be an inexpensive system when it is already running, its initial set up cost can still be high depending on the number of computers to be connected. Expensive devices, such as routers, switches, hubs, etc., can add up to the cost. Aside from these, it would also need network interface cards (NICs) for workstations in case they are not built-in.