Network BasicsMay 26, 2010
Networks begin when two or more computers are connected so that information can be shared. In order to connect to any kind of network, a computer requires a network card and CAT5 or CAT6 cables. (If the computer has a “wireless” network card, radio signals can be used in place of the cables.) A network also requires a piece of equipment called a switch, which acts as a central routing “hub” for the information being shared. A switch is kind of like a mail room in a large company. It makes sure the addressed messages get to the right recipient.
You may have heard the term LAN or WAN. LAN stands for Local Area Network, and usually denotes a network of computers which are fairly close together, say in the same building or office. WAN stands for Wide Area Network. WANs usually connect local area networks which are separated by great distances. (For example, a larger company may have an office LAN in Seattle, and an office LAN in Boston. These two LANs could be connected via a WAN data line.)