What is a network?
A network consists of a set of interconnected devices, nodes, hosts or computers over a communication medium. A network will offer you a choice of services including voice transfer, file transfer, remote login and message passing.
What are the advantages of a network?
The most prominent feature of a network is its potential in communication. Digital transmission methods provide real-time, high-speed communication with fewer distractions. Message passing technologies like e-mails use a store-and-forward approach where the communication is just slightly "delayed", unlike "lost" in traditional circuit-switching telephone networks. Instant messaging software allows you to chat with multiple contacts at once, do multimedia file transfers and even use a common drawing board to discuss things graphically! Using network capable software such as Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint, you can call a meeting among your colleagues, and book the boardroom for your meeting after you check conflicts in your colleagues' appointments and boardroom schedules.
Another advanced service of a network is its ability to share software and hardware resources. Many PC users can share the same printer, scanner, CD-ROM or the tape drive for their work, in a less hardware available environment. When using shared software, employees can execute programs remotely, without having them installed in their local PC.
There are other advantages of a computer network, from the management point of view. For example, a file server can be used to store all files that employees are currently working on. In this kind of a situation, it will be very easy to audit and backup employee work. A network also centralizes the security, maintenance, auditing and monitoring of all the equipment functioning in the network.
What are the types of networks?
There are different types of network classifications based upon size of the network, technology used in the network, data transfer speed in the network and various other attributes. Theoretically, communication networks can be categorized into two different types. The two types are Broadband networks and Baseband networks. Broadband networks are usually high-speed, or provides a lot of bandwidth to the user to transfer large volumes of data at once. Baseband networks are generally low-speed and suitable for non-critical, less-quantity data passing. However, these two types can have different behaviors in the practical world.
Are there any disadvantages of networks?
Yes! There can be potential disadvantages of networks. The most significant of all is the quick scattering of malicious programs like viruses, Trojan horses, malware, spyware and worms. These programs may damage or corrupt your data or equipment. Unauthorized access or hacking is another trend developed with the advancement of networks. Sometimes it is difficult to realize that you are being watched, or attacked over a network.
Network communication is an ever-growing industry with new technologies and standards emerging every day. To use a communication network effectively you need to know the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the various types of networks possible.