In computing, a network (usually a computer network or computer network ) is understood to be the interconnection of a certain number of computers (or networks, in turn) through wired or wireless devices that, using electrical impulses, electromagnetic waves or other means physical, allow them to send and receive information in data packets, share their resources and act as an organized whole.
Networks have processes for sending and receiving messages and a series of codes and standards that guarantee their understanding by computers connected to the network (and not by any other). These communication standards are known as protocols, and the most common of them today is TCP / IP.
Building a network allows managing internal communication, sharing program execution or Internet access, and even managing peripherals such as printers, scanners, etc. This type of swarm system currently supports many management and information processing processes nowadays, such as telecommunications networks, the Internet, the various intranet companies, or various organizations.
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The appearance of networks revolutionized the way of understanding computing and opened a new field within this discipline to meet the needs for improvement, security and operability of computer communication.
Networks are classified according to their dimensions in:
- LAN. Local Area Network (in English: “Local Area Network”). They are the smallest networks, like the ones we can install in our department.
- MAN. Metropolitan Area Network (in English: “Metropolitan Area Network”). These are medium-sized networks, optimal for a college campus or a multi-story library or business building, even for a portion of a city.
- WAN. Wide Area Network (in English: “Wide Area Network”). This is where the largest and most far-reaching networks come in, like global networks or the Internet.
Networks can also be classified according to the physical method they use to connect, as follows:
- Guided media. Networks that link the machines through physical cable systems: twisted pair, coaxial or fiber optics. It has the advantage of being faster, not having as much noise, but being less comfortable and practical.
- Unguided media networks. Networks establish the connection through dispersed and area-wide systems: radio waves, infrared or microwave signals, such as satellite systems and Wi-Fi. They are a little slower but much more comfortable and practical.
There are three models of topology or order of a network:
- Bus networks. Also called linear, they have a server at the head of a successive line of clients, and they have a single communication channel called a bus or backbone.
- Star networks. Each computer has a direct connection to the server, which is in the middle of all. Any communication between clients must first go through the server.
- In-ring. Also called circular, they connect the clients and the server in a circular circuit, although the server maintains its hierarchy.
Elements of a network
To install a computer network, the following elements are needed:
- Hardware. Devices and machines that allow the establishment of communication, such as network cards, modems and routers, or repeater antennas in case of being wireless.
- Software. Programs required to manage the hardware communications, as is the Operating System Network (acronym NOS: Network Operating System ), and protocols of communication such as TCP / IP.
- Servers and clients. The servers process the flow of data on the network, attending to the other computers’ requests on the network called clients or workstations. These allow users to access information individually, sharing the resources managed by the server.
- Transmission media. This refers to the wiring or the electromagnetic waves that, as the case may be, serve as a medium for the communication of the message.