When we talk about what computer networks are, the first thing that strikes our mind is the internet. But is computer networking limited just to that? The answer is, No! Computer networks have evolved a lot in the past few decades. From being expensive both in terms of time and money, they have now become a necessity and are accessible to everybody, irrespective of their location being in the modern, urban and industrial areas or in remote, rural areas. We can find computer networks everywhere.
In the past, for a message to be delivered or an incident to be reported to the public it would take more than 48 hours but in the Gen Z era which we live in, it is a matter of seconds that we are aware of every incident that takes place from north to south, all the credits of which have to be given to the magical powers of computer networking.
In today’s times, networking is everywhere. It supports the way we communicate, work or even play. It is computer networks that have kept learning and business still operational in these times of Covid-19. No matter where you are, through computer networks you can learn by sitting in any part of the world and communicating to anyone you want to. Every time you video call someone or involve in any real time communication like sending pictures, audio messages, videos or even text messages, it is solely possible because of computer networks.
What is a computer network?
By definition, computer networks are a set of nodes connected by communication links, in order to share data and information where a node can be any device like another computer, server, routers, security cameras or printer which is capable of being a sender and a recipient of the data generated from other nodes in the network. Computer networks follow layering in order to send data from one computer to another.
The communication link is the one that carries the information from the sender to the recipient. The communication link can be a wired link or a non wired link. Examples of wired links can be a data cable connecting two computers or your phone with your computer. Whereas, bluetooth connection between two devices like two mobile phones or connection between your mobile phone and your headphones can be a very good example of non wired links. Concluding that cables and air is the best example for wired and non wired or wireless communication links respectively.
Uses of computer networking:
Computer networks are mainly used for resource sharing and sharing physical devices. For instance, if there are four computers that need to print their data using a printer. It is not ideal to have the proportion of computers and printers equal. This is where the computer network comes into play. All the four computers can be connected to one printer and use it. Therefore, computer networks help in saving a lot of infrastructural cost as well.
One can easily work from home as a computer network enables us to access all the files, information, data and software actually available in the company regardless of the physical location of the employees. Computer networks have also helped organizations to grow their client serve models. The server stores all the inputs, customer feedback, customer reaction and other responses for the company to review and use in the future to improve customer satisfaction methods and improve customer experience. It also helps the companies to communicate with the customer and solve their queries.
Computer networks also provide us insights about all the prime time happenings in the world along with anything and everything we want to know about. With computer networks on your side, you can access journals that were published in the other end of the world with just a click. Everything you want to know is available on networking. With computer networking, anything you wish to know is at your fingertips from multiple sources to read, review and confirm. It’s magical to see the amount of data and information computer networking gives us access to, without any restriction or without missing out on any topic in the world.
The biggest boon of computer networking can be stated as its business opportunity aspects. Yes! Computer networking can be and is a big loop that if caught properly, has the potential to thrive. Some of the best examples are companies like OLA, UBER, Amazon and Myntra, some of the big players who used computer networking to its maximum potential. They earned tremendous profits year after year and still continue to do so.
What are the different types of computer networks?
There are multiple ways in which a computer network can be used to share data, resources and information. Computer networks are usually differentiated on the basis of size and function.
The major distribution of types of computer network can be classified as follows:
- PAN- Personal Area Network
- LAN- Local Area Network
- MAN- Metropolitan Area Network
- WAN- Wide Area Network
Let’s have a look at all of these in detail:
Personal Area Network- PAN
The idea of Personal area network was first discovered by Thomas Zimmerman who was a research scientist.
Personal Area network or PAN may be explained as a network that is arranged within a distinctive individual space, commonly inside a scope of 10 meters. Personal area network is usually used to connect personal devices like computers or other mobile phones for the personnel’s personal use. PAN can cover up to 30 feet’s of an area and personal devices like laptop, mobile phone, play stations and other media players can be used to develop a personal area network.
PAN can be classified into two different categories:
- Wireless Personal Area Network (PAN)
- Wired Personal Area Network (PAN)
Wireless Personal Area Network is developed and operated through technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth. It has a low range. Wired Personal Area Network is developed by using USB. Examples of PAN are the most commonly used networks. Starting with the Body Area Network that we often create using our mobile phones like mobile hotspot, bluetooth connections, etc., which we commonly use to share data and information on a daily basis.
Another one is an Offline Network which is created within the space of our homes but isn’t necessarily connected to the internet. Citations of which can be printer, computer, laptops and television. The last one could be stated as Small Home Office which is majorly used as a corporate network connected to various devices using the VPN service.
Local Area Network- LAN
Local Area Network or LAN is usually used in small commercial areas like buildings, schools and offices to connect multiple computers to each other. This is done by using different communication mediums like twisted pairs, coaxial cables, etc. LAN can easily connect two or more personal computers and help in transferring data from one source to another without any extra effort.
For startups or institutes under budget, it is a great option as it requires inexpensive hardwares like network adapters, ethernet cables and hubs. LAN provides high level data security along with providing extremely fast speed for exchange of data and internet, ensuring smooth functioning.
Metropolitan Area Network- MAN
Metropolitan Area Network or MAN is used when the operator wants to cover a large area of the network. This is basically done by interconnecting multiple LAN networks to establish a large network in a large geographical location. All the LAN are connected through telephone exchange lines in order to establish a connection. In comparison to LAN, MAN has a much wider range of networks.
This is usually used by high level agencies, for instance government agencies to connect the citizens to the private industries. MAN can also be used to set up communication between banks in a city, airline reservation, communication of militaries in a city, etc. Widely used protocols for MAN can be stated as- OC-3, ISDN, Frame Relay, RS-232, ATM, etc.
Wide Area Network- WAN
Wide Area Network or WAN as the name suggests, is a widely spread network which has the capacity to operate and cover large areas like states or countries. Its operation is not limited to one location but is spread over a large span through different modes like telephonic lines, satellite links and fibre optics. It is used by majority of the departments in the entire world like schools, colleges, businesses, government, security agencies, etc
The largest WAN network used by all of us is the Internet. The WAN network can be used in different forms like through 4G mobile broadband networks, creating a wide network using fiber connections to operate in a building or a school by multiple people at the same time or used as a private network by organisations to set up a communication with its subsidiaries by telecom based networks.
The setup cost of WAN is very high and also involves purchase of heavy equipment like routers, switches, etc., and in case of any troubleshooting, it can be very difficult to fix due to its huge operations side and its complex structure. But WAN can give rise to a lot of difficulties along with its boons, among which the biggest concern is the issue of security and privacy. In order to ensure safety, use of antiviruses and firewall software is necessary to prevent hacking and invasion activities.
Tutorials for Computer Network
Computer Network tutorials are assistance provided to beginners and professionals in order to learn or brush up the basic and advanced concepts of data communication and network.
These tutorials mostly tend to cover all the topics and details related to Computer Networking such as basic introduction to all the topics, its features, different types of computer networking, architecture of computer networking, the hardware and software which will be required, internet and websites, its operations with advantages and disadvantages, etc.
These tutorials basically help you to understand the working and operation of computer networking in depth and also guides you as to how to use computer networks to the best of your skills.
There are a bundle of Computer Network Tutorials that are easily available on the internet for you to learn from but for your convenience we have listed some best websites below, the best out of all the tutorials. This will make your job easier. You can choose out of these options and learn from the one that suits you and your understanding.
Websites to learn Computer Networks:-
You can easily start your journey of learning computer networks with all the computer networking tutorials mentioned. They all are easy to understand and will provide you with proper explanations for easy segments and will definitely be useful to you, irrespective of you being a fresher or a professional in computer networks.
All these tutorials that are listed above are attached with an easy access link which takes you directly to the tutorial website without any hazard of searching for them on the internet and wasting your time.
Computer networks is an evolving subject and has new upgrades every single time you think- ‘That’s it”. It is a never resting subject and it is equally essential for you to be updated as the inputs improve. I hope this article was helpful for you and answered your dilemma of ‘what are computer networks’, along with providing you with all the information related to it and insights on how you can learn Computer networking.
Along with this you also see Top 10 Future Technology Trends.