Types and Basic Principles of a Computer Network

Types and Basic Principles of a Computer Network

What Is a Computer Network?

A computer network is a single complex where computers, servers, and other equipment interact through communication channels. This ensemble aims to simplify and facilitate IT processes and speed up work. 

Users get joint access to hardware, software, and information resources. In this article, we’ll talk about the types of computer networks and the principles of their formation. 

Types of Computer Networks

To combine computers into a system, pay attention to the following parameters:

  • Type of machines
  • Distance between equipment
  • Functions assigned to the complex

Even if you connect a couple of computers, it will already be considered a network. The latter has two tasks that it can perform individually or both at once. It’s the transfer of information between systems or the provision of access to shared resources (servers, printers, databases). 

Network elements are connected through connections between physical (wires or radio waves) and logical (specific network protocols). 

Each type of computer network was created for a specific application area, so they are subject to different standards and methods. Let’s consider these varieties in more detail.

PAN – Personal Area Network

PAN stands for Personal Area Network. It is an association of personal user equipment. Smartphones, PDAs, headphones, cameras, game consoles, and laptops are assembled into one complex using WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB communication. 

PAN and WPAN (wireless version) have a range limited to 30 meters and can connect up to 8 subscribers. Therefore, such connections cannot be used in different buildings. But through a personal network, it is possible to connect to larger associations.

LAN – Local Area Network

LAN is usually used in private homes, office buildings, educational institutions, etc. Combining equipment into one complex for fast information transfer and general access to servers, printing devices, and software is required. 

It allows subscribers to maintain a connection to the local network while moving around the territory covered by the signal. Many devices can be connected to LAN. The coverage radius is up to 2 km; the information exchange rate is up to 1,000 Mbps. 

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Devices that make up a LAN or WLAN can freely connect to the Internet. However, if two or more computers are connected to the LAN (local area network), the system must also have nodes and elements that ensure stable communication – bridges, hubs, and switches. 

LAN coverage can be increased by using signal repeaters (repeaters). But usually, LANs are used in the same building. WLANs are famous for installation at home or in organizations where WiFi is distributed to employees and visitors. The main distinguishing feature of a LAN is the speed and quality of communication over short distances. In addition, the LAN can be connected to larger MANs or WANs.

CAN – Campus Area Network

CAN – Campus Area Network. It’s an association of several LANs, usually installed in a complex of buildings located at a distance (buildings of hospitals, institutes, dormitories of educational institutions). LANs of all buildings are interconnected either by fiber optic cable.

MAN – Metropolitan Area Network

Links nearby LANs into one computer system. High-performance routers and optical fiber connectors are used to ensure high data transfer rates between devices (the distance between which can be tens of kilometers). 

WAN – Wide Area Network

If metropolitan networks connect nodes operating in regions or cities, global networks unite an unlimited number of devices in countries of each continent. However, it is impossible to use Ethernet cables due to the vast distances, so the WAN uses other sophisticated technology. 

Furthermore, to ensure the stability of the functioning of global networks, they use more complex methods and hardware when using a WAN. Providers rent them and connect end-users or LANs to the Internet.

GAN – Global Area Network

They are made up of multiple WANs so that the owner can connect their computers scattered around the world. For the connection, fiber-optic infrastructures are used, cables running along the bottom of the oceans, or satellite signals.

VPN – Virtual Private Network

It’s a virtual channel that connects the client to the server. A VPN gives you access to almost every device, anywhere in the world. In addition, the system is free, unlike private WANs or MANs. 

VPNs connect multiple LANs on the Internet or allow remote access through a regular connection. This network uses encryption technology to keep sensitive data safe. 

Final Thoughts 

To sum up, a computer network is undoubtedly complex. Nevertheless, we hope you enjoyed learning about computer networks’ basic principles and types. And finally, if you’re looking for a reliable service provider for your Internet and phone consumption: call on the Windstream number for more information.

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