Connecting pieces of communications and information equipment together in a network is not a new concept.  In a computer network, a number of computers are connected together in order to exchange information. For example, an organization having offices spread over a wide geographical area might install a network to enable employees to examine information held on computers in other offices many miles away.

The connections between computers may be wires, fiber-optic cables, microwave links, communication via satellites, or any combination of these. The interconnected collection of computers forms the network, where the computers may be large powerful machines, small personal computers or terminals. These computers will have the added advantage of being able to communicate with each other, apart from being capable of running on their own.

How a traditional network normally works involves the users to log on, that is the users have to identify themselves to the network and explicitly move information around on the network by issuing the appropriate instructions. A distributed system is usually thought of as a network in which the existence of the other machines can be used as though they were held locally on the user’s computer.

So, a network is a linked set of computer systems capable of sharing computer and resources like expensive hardware, for example scanners and printers, as well as databases. Therefore, in this way, a network offers the possibility of sharing work between the different resources available. One example include the fact that of a computer on the network has a heavy load of processing, then in this case some of the work can be moved to another machine. Thus, the use of a network is to make all the resources of the network which include data, programs and equipment (the hardware) available to the whole network without regard to the physical location of either the resources or the users.

Another advantage or use of networking is reliability. The effect of hardware failures can be reduced by switching work from a failed device to one that is still functioning. This can be particularly valuable in systems like banking where it is important that the system can continue operating, even if there are some hardware failures.

A distinction is usually made between networks if computers that are situated relatively close to each other, for example in the same building or cluster of buildings, which is therefore known as Local Area Network (LAN) and those in which computers are geographically remote, thus known as Wide Area Network.

So, a Local Area Network can be defined as a network in which the computer systems are all situated relatively close to each other, for example in the same building or cluster of buildings. Since the distances involved are small, direct physical connection is possible. The network connections are normally wire cables, such as coaxial cable, but fiber-optic cable is increasingly being used.


As compared to a Local Area Network, a Wide Area Network can be defined as a network in which the computers are geographically remote. Wide Area Networks make use of connection methods typically using public telephone links, including microwave links, undersea cables and communication satellites.


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