A network is a collection of computers, servers, mainframes, network devices, peripherals, or other devices connected to one another to allow the sharing of data. A excellent example of a network is the Internet, which connects millions of people all over the world. Below is an example image of a home network with multiple computers and other network devices all connected to each other and the Internet.
Types of Network
Two very common types of networks include:
In addition to these types, the following characteristics are also used to categorize different types of networks:
- Topology: The geometric arrangement of a computer system. Common topologies include a bus, star, and ring. See the Network topology diagrams in the Quick Reference section of Webopedia.
- Protocol: The protocol defines a common set of rules and signals that computers on the network use to communicate. One of the most popular protocols for LANs is called Ethernet. Another popular LAN protocol for PCs is the IBM token-ring network .
- Architecture: Networks can be broadly classified as using either a peer-to-peer or client/server architecture.
Computers on a network are sometimes called nodes. Computers and devices that allocate resources for a network are called servers.