A network is the interconnection of two or more computers, facilitating the exchange of information between them. Networks aren’t just for large companies; you can network two computers in your home to share a single Internet connection, share a printer, more easily exchange files, or even play a networked game. Networking, whether it’s between two computers in the same room or two computers on opposite ends of the Earth, can open a host of possibilities not feasible on a standalone system.
There are several different kinds of networks, each with their own limitations and advantages. A simple workgroup can comprise as few as two computers connected with a single cable (often called a peer-to-peer network). This is ideal in a home office or small business setting, where individual systems can be linked together with a minimum of hardware and cabling and configured to share resources. A shared folder, for example, is merely a standard folder residing on a single computer, made accessible to any other computer on the network through Explorer as though it were actually on each computer’s hard disk.
Larger organizations typically deploy networks based on the
topology. Client/server networks are different from peer-to-peer networks not so much in technology as in the roles the different computers play. For example, one computer on the network, which might be running Unix or Windows NT, would take on the role of the server; it ...