Networking 101: Everything to get you started with computer networks

Many people have been researching networking on the internet in order to learn more about what it comprises. Some of the material found on the internet has nothing to do with networking.

We'll walk you through what you'll need to get started with networking, which is a fairly broad topic. Let's get this party started.

What is a computer network?

a picture of computers linked together on a network
computers linked together on a network

A computer network is basically a series of nodes linked together to share resources. On a network, a node is a device. A computer, printer, switch, gateway, router, repeator, mobile phone, laptop, or other device can be used as this device.

Now so you understand that computer networks are all about connecting devices so that they may work together and share resources. Data, information, software, and hardware devices are examples of shared resources. Have you ever wondered, "What gives a network these resources?" It is, in fact, a server.

A server is a computer that allows other computers to share its resources across a network. It answers to information requests from clients by giving the needed data. The machine that uses the shared resources is referred to as the client.

an image of servers
Source: dreamstime

Essentially, the server's job is to store and distribute files from one computer to another through a network.

However, some servers are designed to do a specific task, and such a server is referred to as a specialized server.

  • Application servers
  • Communication servers
  • Fax servers
  • Mail servers
  • Web servers 

Let's also talk about computer network medium. Now, because a computer network is all about exchanging data or information, we'll need a way to send those data to another machine on the network.
The channel over which network data or information passes or traverses is referred to as a network medium. There are two basic networking transmission media: cable and wireless.

Three commonly used cables can be used to transmit data through a network via wire media. coaxial, twisted pair, and fiber optic cables are among the options.

Let's take a quick look at each of these cables one by one.

Coaxial cable has two types and they are; thick ethernet or 10base5 – the 10 refers to speed(10Mpbs), the ‘base’ because it is a base band system(base band uses all of its bandwidth for each transmission as opposed to broad band which splits the bandwidth into separate channels to use concurrently) and the ‘5’ is short for the system’s maximum cable length, in this case 500m.

Another type of coaxial cable to talk about is thin ethernet or 10base2; in this case the maximum cable length is 185m even though the ‘2’ suggest that it should be 200m.

Let's look at the differences between the two varieties of coaxial cable now that you've learned about them.
  • Thin ethernet is a flexible cable about 0.2 in diameter but thick ethernet is rigid and has a diameter of 0.4.
  • Thick ethernet has a bend radius of 360 degrees/ft while thick ethernet has a bend radius of 30 degrees/ft.
  • Thin ethernet is easy to install but thick ethernet is difficult to install.
Twisted pair is another cable used to transmit data over a network. It has two types and they are; shielded twisted pair and unshielded twisted pair.

For shielded twisted pair;
  • Its speed and throughput is 10 to 100Mbps
  • Average cost per node is moderately expensive
  • Has a maximum cable length of 100m
For unshielded twisted pair;
  • Speed and throughput from 10 to 100Mbps
  • Average cost per node is least expensive
  • Also has a maximum cable length of 100m.
Optic fiber which is also another cable for sharing resources across a network, uses pulse light sent along light at the heart of the cable to transfer information. It sends in one direction only. Two cables are required to permit data exchange in both direction.

cable for networking
Source: photo-dictionary

These are some elements to consider when purchasing a cable now that you know what cables are used for networking.
  1. Bandwidth
  2. Cost
  3. Capacity
  4. Eases of installation.
Wifi, bluetooth, cellular communication, and radio frequency identification are all examples of wireless technologies that can be used to transmit data via a network.

Now that we know about networking, let's look at some of it applications.

  • Access to remote information 
  • Person to person communication
  • Serve as a communication medium at workplaces
  • Resource sharing.


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