Networking Basics

In the modern day world, networking has almost become a necessity for businesses, governments and schools throughout the world, for their secure and efficient operations.

What’s meant by networking?

Networking is simply the practice of linking two or more computers with each other, in order to help them share each other’s resources. These resources can be anything like files, CDs, printers or electronic communication such as instant messages or emails. You can create these networks using different methods like radio waves, infrared beams, satellites, telephone lines and cables.

To highlight the importance of networks in our day-to-day lives, please note that the absence of networks can lead to major problems in day-to-day functioning of government agencies, schools and businesses. If no networks were there, all these entities wouldn’t have been able to operate as efficiently as they normally do today.

If you take closer look at the day-to-day operations of schools and offices, you may feel that connection of dozens of computers to a single shared printer is a very simple phenomenon, yet extremely useful in its own way. However, what’s even more valuable is the ability of different computers in the entire building to share important files and resources with each other. Such capabilities are extremely useful for organizations that may need to give access to the same files to a large number of employees on a daily basis. By making efficient use of the networking capabilities, these files can be simultaneously made available to employees working on them from their own respective computers, thereby improving the efficiency of the entire organization.

Switches and routers

Switches – These are used for connecting various devices present on a single network. All these devices may normally be located inside the same building, for instance in a school or an office consisting of various printers, computers and gadgets. The switch functions as a controller enabling easy sharing of information between objects connected to each other. Not only does it increase the efficiency and productivity of the employees, it also goes a long way in saving money for businesses.

Routers – A router is another important piece of equipment that’s regularly used in networks throughout the world. Routers play a key role in connecting different networks with each other through Internet, so as to facilitate easy exchange of data between these networks. While a switch can be likened to a controller, a router is more like a dispatcher which packs information and then decides the best possible route for it to reach its destination. Routers can have various other functionalities such as virtual private networks, firewalls etc. which improve the security of the data sent through the Internet.

Two important network types

Local area network – Also known as LAN, local area networks are created for connecting different devices that are closely situated to each other, for instance inside a home, school or building. LANs are created with the help of Ethernet cables (for connecting devices in the network).

Wide area network – Also known as WAN, wide area networks are created for connecting devices that are situated at distances longer than local area networks. These networks are created using routers for connecting different LANs with each other. Wide area networks are not generally owned by any single organization or a person. An excellent example of a massive WAN is the internet present in all parts of the world today.