Today computer networks are everywhere. You will find them in homes, offices, factories, hospitals leisure centres etc. But how are they created? What technologies do they use? In this tutorial you will learn the basic networking technologies, terms and concepts used in all types of networks both wired and wireless, home and office.
Home and Office Networks
The network you have at home uses the same networking technologies, protocols and services that are used in large corporate networks and on the Internet.
The only real difference between an home network and a large corporate network is the size.
A home network will have between 1 and 20 devices and a corporate network will have many thousands.
If you are completely new to networking then the basic course will introduce you to the basic networking protocols used in small home/office networks and on the Internet.
Setting Up and building a Home Network will introduce some basic networking component and show you how to build a home network and connect it to the Internet.
Networking Types and Structures
Networks can be wired or wireless with most networks being a mixture of both.
Wired vs Wireless Networks
Early (pre 2008) networks were predominately wired.
Today however most networks will use a mixture of wired and wireless network.
Wired networks use Ethernet as the data link protocol. This is unlikely to change with the IOT, as IOT devices will be predominantly wireless.
Wired Networks- Advantages and Disadvantages
Wired networks have the following advantages/disadvantages:
- Ethernet ports are found on almost all laptops/PCs and netbooks even on those 8 years old.
- Wired networks are faster than Wireless. Data rates were periodically increased from the original 10 megabits per second, to 1gigabits per second. Most home networks use 10-100Mbps.
- More secure than Wireless
- Need to Use cable which can be unsightly, difficult to run and expensive.
- Can’t be used easily between buildings (planning etc).
- Note a new technology that uses mains cable overcomes many of these disadvantages. powerline networking is common on home/small office networks
- Not supported on Mobile phones and tablets.
Wireless Networks – Advantages and Disadvantages
Wireless networks use Wi-fi as the data link protocol. However other wireless options are being developed for the IOT (Internet of things). See Wireless networking Technologies for the IOT
Wireless Networks have the following advantages/disadvantages:
- Generally easier to set up.
- Can be used both on home and public networks
- No cables required.
- Can be used with mobile phones and tablets.
Wireless Networks Disadvantages
- Generally Slower than wired networks.
- Limited by range.
- Open to eavesdropping.
- Not as secure depending on set up.
Networking Topologies and Layout
There are many different ways network nodes can be connected together. This isn’t normally a consideration in small networks but has networks get larger it becomes more important.
There are many different ways network nodes can be connected together.
Common connection technologies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc are designed to work using a particular network topology.
When designing networks and choosing connection protocols having an understanding of these topologies is important.
Each of these topologies has advantages and disadvantages this Network topologies article has a really good overview of each topology along with advantages and disadvantages.
Early Ethernet networks used a bus structure, modern Ethernet networks and Wi-Fi Networks. use a star bus (hybrid) structure.
However both Wi-Fi and bluetooth are being upgraded to support mesh networking.
Networking Topology- Physical vs Logical
How the nodes on a network communicate with each other can be very different to how they are physically interconnected.
Most Home and small office networks use a physical bus topology.
Common logical typologies are Peer to Peer and Client Server.
The web (WWW) is a client server network at the logical level.
Peer to Peer and Client Server Networking
Peer to Peer
in a peer to peer network all nodes are equal and any node can talk to any other node.
No node has any special role. This was the original networking model of windows networking. (windows for Workgroups)- Diagram below:
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Easier to setup
- Not dependent on a single node
- More resilient
- Better distribution of network traffic
- No central administrator required
- Less expensive hardware required
- Less secure and more difficult to secure
- More difficult to administer
- More difficult to backup
- More difficult to locate information.
This was the original networking model used in early Windows networks (windows for Workgroups)
A Modern example of Peer to Peer networking is BitTorrent.
Practice Test For Basic Networking is Available Here