A computer network is a collection of computers and other hardware connected to each other to: (1) facilitate communications; (2) transmit file data; and (3) share printers and other resources.
Multiple computers - Windows, Apple and Linux systems - can be wirelessly networked together, along with tablets, smartphones, televisions, game consoles, and an Internet connection.
Currently, most operating systems support a variety of networking protocols, hardware, and applications for participating with different operating systems on a common network - wired or wireless.
• A small network is now an affordable luxury for consumers and budget-conscious entrepreneurs alike.
Networking component costs have gone down substantially. Fewer quality distinctions exist between home and small office network environments, as inexpensive consumer devices have become available to replace specialized network components.
• Network technology is substantially more accessible and less complex.
A full-time technology professional is no longer required to maintain a small office network.
• Networks can: (a) allow systems to opt-in on sharing data, or (b) set up centralized controls over the participating computers.
Computers and devices connected in a limited physical area, such as a home or office, share resources over a local area network (LAN), including documents, images, music, video, games, and backup data. The major distinction is that a home usually will have self-governing computers specifying any data sharing to other participating computers (a peer-to-peer network), while an office is more likely to have a server in charge of granting resource access to each of the computers under its control.
Users must be alert for the introduction of malware at all points of entry, including computers and devices used by others participating on a network together, as well as exterior sources of file data and programs - especially the Internet.
• Sharing data on a network requires heightened attention to all appropriate security issues.
Networking computers and digital devices to one another depends on basic hardware building blocks, such as network interface cards (NICs), bridges, and routers. This hardware list is the same used for computers to gain access to a wide area network (WAN), such as the Internet. You may have all the equipment and hardware to network your home or office computers if you can already use your computers to get to the Web:
1. A network interface card is given its own address to use for a computer, a unique identity specified under a protocol followed by all network card manufacturers to allow any computer (or networked device) to connect to a network without creating an address conflict. A port is the specialized outlet on the network card - physical or wireless - that serves as the interface between a computer and other computers or devices.
2. A network bridge, such as a cable modem, connects multiple networked devices by broadcasting data from one port to all the others it is connected with. Note that once the bridge associates a port and an address, it will send traffic for that address to that port only.
3. Routers perform the "traffic directing" functions on the Internet, forwarding data to other routers until it reaches its destination. The most familiar type are wireless home and small office routers that simply pass data between their networked computers and a gateway cable (or DSL) modem that connects to an Internet service provider. The most sophisticated core routers will forward data at high speed along the optical fiber lines of the Internet backbone.
The single most important tip on you being able to maintain your network through power fluctuations and outages is to understand:
How to Power Cycle Your Modem and Router
1. Shut down the computer.
2. Switch off the modem followed by the router and also unplug their power cables.
3. Wait for 30 seconds.
4. Plug the power cords back into the modem and the router but don’t switch them on yet.
5. First turn on your modem and wait for it to initialize(let the lights become stable).
6. Then switch on the router and let the blinking lights stabilize.
7. Now turn on your computer or your gaming console connected to the network. You should now be able to access the Internet. Please note that for power cycling, it’s important that you switch on the devices only in the specified order.
(Credit: digital inspiration - labnol.org)