What is Networking Explained with Examples

This tutorial explains the definition, benefits, purposes and essential components of Computer Networking in detail. Learn what computer networking is including the advantages of networking in computer and the essential components for computer networking such as end device, media, networking device and protocol.

What is the networking in Computer?

Networking is the process of connecting two or more computers for sharing. Through the networking, computers share information such as email, file, documents and resources such as printer, internet and disk storage.

Purpose of Computer Networking

Computer Networking has a single purpose and that is sharing. If we have nothing to share, networking has nothing for us. If we anything to share, networking has everything for us. Networking in computer is not a new concept. It has been here since the computers used to look like abacuses. At that time networking was used to share abacus answer with others. Over the time abacuses became computers and networking became more sophisticated. However the purpose of networking is still same: sharing the information and resource as fast as possible.

Benefits of Networking

Networking is all about the sharing. Networking allows us to share three main things: data, resource and application.

Data sharing

Networking allows us to exchange data between computers. Traditional method of data transportation (such as CD, DVD, USB, etc.) does not work well where data is exchanged regularly between devices.

Let’s take a simple example. Suppose there are two computers. Data is exchanged between them several times in a day. Without networking we have to take following steps each time when data is exchanged: -

  • In sender PC, write data in external device (such as CD, DVD and USB)
  • Transport that external device to the receiver PC
  • In receiver PC, read or copy the data from external device

If data is exchanged 100 times in day, we have to follow these steps 100 times in day. In a situation where data is exchanged between computers frequently, this approach is neither convenience nor suitable.

computer network without networking

In this case, networking is the single best solution. It allows us to exchange data between connected devices. Once networking is properly setup between both computers, they can exchange data regularly without any external device.

computer network with networking

Resources Sharing

Networking allows us to share a device among the computers. Resources sharing help us in saving a lot of money by reducing the required components.

Let’s understand it with a simple example. Suppose we have four computers which need printer occasionally.

Without networking we have to buy four printers; one for each computer.

printer sharing in network

With networking we only need to buy one printer.

shared printer

There are two types of physical device: -

Sharable: - The device which can be shared in network such as Hard disk, Printer, Modem, Scanner, CD, DVD, USB etc.

Non-sharable: - The device which can’t be shared in network such as CPU, RAM, Motherboard, Monitor, etc.

Application Sharing

Just like data and resource, through networking we can also share applications. Application sharing is the most common practice in company environment. In companies, usually a project is assigned to several users, or a team which have several members. Networking allows concerned users or members to work on assigned project simultaneously.

Essential components of computer networking

There are four essential components in computer networking: -

  1. End devices
  2. Media
  3. Networking devices
  4. Protocol

End devices

End device is the device which is used to share and access the shared resource such as computer, laptop, smartphone, etc. For networking, at least two end devices are required. Based on the role played by the end device, it can be categorized in two types; client and server.

Client end device

End device that is used to access the shared resources such as PC, Workstation, Smartphone, etc.

Server end device

End device that is used to share the resource such as PC, Server, Network printer, etc.

Let’s take a simple example. Following figure illustrates a computer network.

server client share

In this network: -

  • While PC-B accesses shared printer, it works as client end device and PC-A works as server end device.
  • While PC-A accesses shared internet, it works as client end device and PC-B works as server end device.

This categorization is purely based on the role played by end device in network. A device can be a server device, a client device or both at the same time. The device which we use to access the shared resource is known as client end device while the device which share the particular resource is known as server end device.

Media

Media provides the connectivity between end devices. Depending on the type of network, different media type is used.

Media is categorized in two types; wired and wireless. In wired media, a cable such as coaxial cable, electrical cable, copper cable, fiber optical cable is used to transmit the data between computers. In wireless media radio spectrums are used to transmit the data. Based on several factors (such as speed, distance and signal loose) each media type has its own characteristic and limitations.

Different network requires different type of media. To learn which media type is used in which type of network, see this tutorial

Network Cable Types and Specifications

Networking devices

Depending on the size and functionality of a network, several networking devices are used. For example, to build a small home network, we need only few networking devices while to build a company network, we may need several hundred networking devices. Let's understand the top three networking devices.

Network interface card

This is the key device in networking. Without it networking can’t be done. It enables computer to communicate with other computers in network. In earlier time, it was a separate card and need to be installed on motherboard separately. In modern time, usually all computers have it as the integral part of motherboard.

LAN Card

lan card

On board LAN Card

on board lan card

Switch

In networking devices list, switch stands on second place. When we have more than two computers in network, we cannot connect them directly. We need a mediator device that allows us to connect all computers together. Switches do this job happily. Each switch contains a certain number of ports. To connect the certain number of hosts, we have to use the switch which has equal or higher number of ports than the number of devices.

switch

Router

In networking device lists, router stands on third position. By default two different networks do not communicate with each other. Router works as an intermediate device. It connects two different networks.

router

To learn more about networking devices, see this tutorial. It explains the most common computer networking devices in detail with their functions and specifications.

Computer Networking Devices Explained with Functions

Protocol

When a computer has data for another computer in network it initiates a session for transmission. During this process both computers finalized the rules of transmission such as speed of transmission, size of data file, security measurement of transmission, flow control etc. These rules are called protocols. Protocols control the entire data transmission through the network. Protocols are defined in various network models such as TCP/IP Layer model, OSI Layer model. In simple terms, protocol is the communication language which computers use to communicate with other computers in network.

To learn the various types of protocols and how they works in computer network, see this tutorial. It explains computer networking protocols in details.

Types of Network Protocol Explained with Functions

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