What is a network?

Basic Technology Skills -> networks-> What is a network?

Two computer networkA computer network is simply a group of computers and or devises linked together. There can be various sizes of networks - from two computers in your home, to millions of computers on the Internet, and anywhere in between. The picture on the right is an example of a two computer peer-to-peer network.

Networks can include computers, servers, printers, file servers, as well as many other types of devises, as shown below.

Client Server Network

Besides the number of computers, computer networks can have different ways of connecting. They can be connected by "wires" -- Ethernet or via phone lines, or be connected by radio signals or wireless -- also called WiFi. The differences in connecting also produce different speeds of connections. For example, you can be connected with wires and have a high speed connection (cable or DSL) or be connected by a dial-in or slower speed.

Some networks are connected using both wires and wireless. For example, at Alverno you can use the computers in the Computer Center to the Internet. These computers are usually connected via wires. If you have a laptop that is equipped with a wireless card, you can also connect to the Internet in the Commons using WiFi. A WiFi connection allows you to connect to a server using radio waves. Usually the server is then connected by wires.

There are several differences between connecting to a network via the computers in the Computer Center, or using your own laptop in the Commons. Although both allow you to connect to the biggest network -- the Internet, connecting in the Computer Center allows you to connect to the Internet AND to Alverno's network. Once you are connected to Alverno's network you can connect to your home directory, print, and do other things that you cannot do if you were ONLY connected to the Internet (via wireless in the Commons).

Alverno's Academic Computer Center provides you with many resources, software, and printing. To find out more about the Computer Center, including hours opened, rooms and software available and much more, go to Tech Services.

Did you know that you can purchase MicroSoft Office at a CONSIDERABLE discount? To find out more go to Student Discounts.

How do I connect to a Network?


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