A network is a group of two or more computer systems linked together. There are many types of computer networks, including the most popular for our area:

  • local-area networks (LANs): The computers are geographically close together (that is, in the same building).
  • wide-area networks (WANs): The computers are farther apart and are connected by telephone lines or radio waves. (This is usually our remote wireless internet service providers)

The major benefit of a network is to share resources. These can be:

  • Files and folders
  • Hardware like printers
  • Internet connections

The geometric arrangement of a computer system is called Network Topology. Common topologies include a bus, star, and ring. The most common used today is the star topology using cat5 or 5e network cable.

The protocol defines a common set of rules and signals that computers on the network use to communicate. The most popular protocol for lans and the internet is TCP/IP.

Networks can be broadly classified as using either a peer-to-peer or client/server architecture. Many small businesses can use a combination of these today.