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Computer Networking Basics: Network Types, Technologies, Topologies, Pros and Cons

Studying and understanding computer networking basics is crucial for skilled professionals in this modern technology-driven world, increasingly relying on the internet or inter-connected devices. 

Are you curious about the network architecture, devices, topology, protocols and models? This blog will primarily focus on a comprehensive idea of computer networks— basics, types, etc. Read on to learn more.  

Fundamental Networking Concepts

Computer networks refer to the collection of interconnected computers that permits multiple devices to exchange data and communicate by using a medium for communication. 

With evolving needs of computer networks, the components involved evolved as well. Listed below are a few components of computer networks to help clear your networking concepts:

  • Routers
  • Switches
  • Transmission Media
  • Servers
  • Shared data
  • Access points
  •  Local operating systems
  • Protocol
  • Networking operating system
  • Hub
  •  OSI
  • IP addresses

Other crucial components of a network are:

  •  RARP- Reverse Address Resolution Protocol provides the device’s IP address with a provided physical address as input.
  •  ARP- Address Resolution Protocol helps convert any user’s IP address into a physical address.

Enterprise Computer Networks Types

The enterprise computer network design is made to connect multiple systems or devices within an organisation or business. 

This enables proper and efficient data sharing and facilitates efficient communication. Learning about them improves basic networking knowledge

Some of the widely used enterprise computer networks, based on organisational size and requirements, are:

  • LAN (Local Area Network)
  • MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)
  • WAN (Wide Area Network)
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Other crucial enterprise computer networks are:

  • SAN (Storage Area Network)
  • Cloud Network
  • ICS (Industrial Control System)
  • CAN (Campus Area Network)
  • Wi-Fi (Enterprise Wireless Network)
  • UCN (Unified Communication Network)

Each enterprise network caters to specific needs, considering particular operational requirements and authoritative structures. 

Computer Network Architecture and Their Types

Computer network architecture involves planning and designing communication systems that empower devices to trade information and resources. There are primarily 2 types of architecture — 

  • Client-Server Here, nodes work as either client or server, and server nodes manage client nodes.
  • Peer-to-Peer – Devoid of any central server, here, each device can work as both a client and a server.   

Basic Networking Terminologies

A few important under the network architecture include the OSI model, network devices, unique identifiers, protocols, and topology, which are explained below.

  • OSI Model

The OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model is a conceptual framework that normalises network communication into seven layers, each liable for particular functions. These layers incorporate session presentation, physical data link, network transport, and application layers. The model helps understand network processes and empowers interoperability between various systems.

  • Protocol

Protocols are rules that oversee data communication and transmission between computers. They guarantee exact and steady data trade. Normal protocols incorporate HTTP for web browsing, TCP/IP for web communication, and SMTP for email moving.

  • Network Devices

Network devices work with communication and asset sharing. These incorporate switches for firewalls for security, coordinating data traffic, and switches for interfacing devices inside a network. Network devices upgrade security, availability, and execution.

  • Network Topology

Network topology refers to the specific arrangement of devices and associations inside a network. The usual topology comprises star, bus, hybrid, ring, and lattice. Every topology influences the data stream, adaptability in an unexpected way, and adaptation to internal failure.

  • Unique Identifiers of Networks

Devices inside a network are distinguished using unique locations. For instance, IP addresses recognise devices in an IP-based network, while Media Access Control (Macintosh) addresses are unique identifiers allocated to network interface cards. These identifiers guarantee the appropriate conveyance of data.

All these computer network architectures serve different purposes, and understanding these components is crucial for designing, maintaining and implementing. 

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Important Types of Computer Networks

In the connectivity domain, various network types serve various purposes depending on their location. From nearby consumers or localities to wide scales of people worldwide, networks empower consistent communication, resource sharing, and efficient data transfer. 

  • LAN (Local Area Network) – Covers a small geographic area like a single enterprise, mostly used for sharing resources and enhancing internal communication.
  • WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) – A wireless extension of LAN which permits multiple devices to connect via Wi-Fi for mobiles and remote communication.
  • CAN (Campus Area Network) – Primarily built for university campuses because they have a limited geographical area to provide higher bandwidth.
  • MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) – Covers a large area but is usually smaller than a wide area network (WAN), which can connect several LANs around the city.
  • PAN (Personal Area Network) – Links data storage devices with servers optimising data access and storage management in data centres.
  • SAN (Storage Area Network) – A specialised network, it optimises storage management, data access in data centres and links data storage computers with the servers.
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network) – A secure connection provided for the public to allow them access to the organisation’s internal network securely.
  • WAN (Wide Area Network) – The most widely used computer networking type for connecting large-span areas, which can be used for satellites and leased lines for data exchange.

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Types of Network Topology Used in Computer Networking

Network topology refers to the arrangement of devices and associations inside a network. The different topologies are:

BUS Topology

Devices are linked successively on a single link. They are simple to set up but susceptible to interruptions if the fundamental miss-link comes.

RING Topology

Devices are linked in a round structure, and data goes through every device, offering data privacy. Yet, one malfunction in any interconnected device can break the whole network.

STAR Topology

All device interfaces are connected with a focal centre known as a central hub. This guarantees better issue detachment and more straightforward administration. However, a malfunction at the central hub can cause failure of the entire network.

MESH Topology

Every device is associated with every other device, allowing proper repetitiveness and reliable quality, yet it requires complex management processes and real cabling.

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Examples of Computer Networks

Some of the various use cases of computer networking are as follows:

  • Sharing of Resources – It permits sharing essential resources such as files, printers and scanners, reducing cost and enhancing efficiency at home and in business.
  • Remote Accessibility – Computer networks have remote access to resources and systems that facilitate remote management, troubleshooting and telecommunicating.
  • Retrieval of Information – Helps retrieve any data from the internet.
  • Entertainment – Networks help build streaming services that deliver multimedia content such as games, music and videos over particular networks to global networks.
  • Enhancement in Healthcare – Computer networks assist in medical network support such as remote diagnostics, telemedicine and electronic health records.
  • Efficiency in Transportation – It supports navigation systems, tracks logistics, and manages traffic to make the transportation industry more efficient.
  • Surveillance and Security – Computer networks help monitor critical infrastructure, premises, and public spaces.
  • Innovations and Research – Computer networks benefit research projects by accessing virtual laboratories, resources and data sharing.
  • Management of Energy – It is used in the smart grid for remote controls for monitoring and controlling energy distribution.
  • Efficient Communication – Computer networks permit real-time communication via instant messaging, email, VoIP and video conferencing.
  • Remote Collaboration – Networks permit real-time collaborative tools that help enhance teamwork by using project management software, virtual workspaces and shared documents.
  • E-commerce Industry – Permits remote engagement and supports online stores with features such as financial services and transactions that primarily depend on seamless and secure networks.
  • Education – Computer network servers that aid online learning platforms and resources facilitate skill enhancement, research collaboration and distance education.
  • Government Services – Networks assist in e-governance, online public services, and secure communication among government agencies.

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Benefits of Computer Networking

Computer networking offers multiple benefits:

  • Enhances collaboration, proficient resource sharing, and seamless communication
  • Empowers remote admittance to data and frameworks, supporting adaptable work game plans.
  • Networking works with quick and secure data transfer, which is vital for research and businesses. It encourages the development of global connectivity and online communities.
  • Offer financially savvy arrangements by streamlining maintenance and centralising resources.
  • Assist significantly in diversion, schooling, and medical services, adding to the modernisation and progress of different ventures and areas.

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Drawbacks of Computer Networking

Even with the numerous benefits of integrating computer networks, they are not completely devoid of downsides. Some of the disadvantages of using computer networks are:

  • Security concerns emerge because of potential cyberattacks and data breaches.
  • Network failures can cause disturbances in the completion of tasks, causing a loss of efficiency and time.
  • The arrangement, as well as maintenance expenses, can be high, particularly for complex organisational structures.
  • Initial set-up costs run high, requiring both hardware and software installation.
  • Some components and designs may become obsolete over the years, necessitating replacement.
  • Network congestion and bandwidth limitations can influence data transfer speeds. 
  • Protection concerns arise because of data sharing.

Final Thoughts

Computer networks are considered the backbone of modern collaboration and communication systems. In the current fast-paced world, building a robust and reliable networking system is challenging, and it has become one of the most crucial topics to study for any budding professional.

Apart from knowing networking basics, enrolling in a course can help expand your knowledge of computer networks. 

upGrad’s Master of Science in Computer Science from LJMU is an excellent course that helps professionals stay ahead of the competition. 

FAQs

What are the basics of computer networking?

Computer networking basics incorporate understanding network types, geo or topologies, conventions, gadgets such as hubs, routers and switches, and data transmission and security fundamentals. Networking includes linking computer devices to share resources and access data over nearby and global organisations.

How can understanding basic networking concepts enhance cybersecurity practices?

Understanding essential networking ideas can significantly enhance cybersecurity practices. It can help identify vulnerabilities and threats, secure firewalls, implement adequate security measures, help in encryption/decryption, access control and monitoring, build robust cloud security and much more.

What are some important considerations for network security in a business environment?

In a business or industry, under network security basics, essential organisational security concepts include training employees in cybersecurity, implementing strong access controls, incident response plans, and encryption for sensitive data. Keeping up with reinforcements, network segmentation, and standard reviews is critical for mitigating dangers and guaranteeing data security.

What are some common network security threats and vulnerabilities to be aware of?

Common cyber security threats include malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks and phishing cyberattack. Weaknesses can emerge from weak passwords, misconfigured gadgets, unpatched frameworks, and obsolete programming. Insider dangers, social designing, and the absence of encryption are additional dangers.

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