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What is Network?


Computer network

Network

1. A collection of computers, servers, mainframes, network devices, peripherals, or other devices connected to one another allowing for data to be shared and used. A great example of a network is the Internet, connecting millions of people all over the world together.
Below is an example image of what a home network or small office network may look like. As you can see in the image, this network is setup to enable all computers and other network devices with network abilities, such as the Tivo unit, to communicate with each other, as well as share the single Internet connection.

Other examples of network devices

Any device capable of connecting to a network is considered a network device. Below are some of the more common network devices you are likely to find on a home network.
  • Computer (e.g. desktop, laptop, or server computer)
  • Console
  • Firewall
  • Hub
  • Router
  • Smartphone
  • Switch
  • Webcam

Network topologies and types of networks

A network can be setup in dozens of different ways known as network topologies. Common configurations include the bus topology, mesh topology, ring topology, star topology, tree topology and hybrid topology. Most home users have a home network with a tree topology that is connected to the Internet. Many corporate networks will use the tree topology setup as well, but they typically have many more star networks and may also have an Intranet for employees only.


2. Network is also the name of an icon and section in Microsoft Windows that allows users to browse other available resources on their network. See the My Network definition for further information on this term and related links.

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Computer Server

Server A server is a computer that provides data to other computers. It may serve data to systems on a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN) over the Internet.

Many types of servers exist, including web servers, mail servers, and file servers. Each type runs software specific to the purpose of the server. For example, a Web server may run Apache HTTP Server or Microsoft IIS, which both provide access to websites over the Internet. A mail server may run a program like Exim or iMail, which provides SMTP services for sending and receiving email. A file server might use Samba or the operating system's built-in file sharing services to share files over a network.

While server software is specific to the type of server, the hardware is not as important. In fact, a regular desktop computers can be turned into a server by adding the appropriate software. For example, a computer connected to a home network can be designated as a file server, print server, or …