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What are computer networks, and what are their types?

 

What are computer networks, how do they work, and what are their types?

Computer Networks are one of the most important technologies that we use and rely on in our lives today, as they are fundamental and necessary in almost every aspect of our lives.

Types of computer network


Without it, for example, I would not have been able to write this article from my computer at home, nor would you be able to read it from your mobile phone at this moment.

In this article, we will learn in detail about computer networks, how they work, their types, their importance, and many other things about them.


What are computer networks?

Computer networks or computer networks are two or more computers connected to each other and able to exchange data with each other, so they are sometimes called data networks.

The most important example of such networks is the Internet, which connects all human beings in almost all places, and enables us to communicate and exchange data of all kinds quickly and efficiently.

But the world of networks is a diverse world and is not only limited to the Internet, there are many forms and types of networks in the world, which we will talk about later in this article.

Networks mainly consist of two parts: hardware, such as routers, switches, cables, and optical fibers, in addition to software, such as operating systems and applications.

In order for computer networks to play their role in sharing data, they must have three important and basic principles, namely performance, reliability, and security, and we will talk in detail later about the last principle related to security.

What is amazing and distinctive about some types of computer networks - such as the Internet - is that they are able to connect different places far away from each other, and this matter, despite our familiarity with it, is very wonderful and amazing.

As for the history of computer networks, it goes back to the late fifties and early sixties, and it has witnessed many developments and changes since the ARPANET era until the Internet that we know today.


How do computer networks work?

The way computer networks work is very simple and easy, it is a group of nodes or nodes connected to each other.

These nodes may be the computers themselves, routers, cables, optical fibers, or even wireless signals.

A computer network is the sum of these nodes. Through this connection, these networks can communicate and share data with each other.

Indeed, because of this method of communication, networks can also share computing resources and power.

The simplest example of this is the first computer network in history that was between two supercomputers in the United States in order to share data and to share a camera rather than each computer having its own camera.

With the development and complexity of these networks, the need for protocols to regulate this communication has emerged, but this is another long story.

Today, thanks to wireless connectivity, we are easily able to connect to networks without many wires and problems.

Networks have greatly contributed to us entering the era of the Internet of Things or IoT. Today, billions of devices are connected to the Internet, and their numbers are expected to multiply dozens of times.

The refrigerator, television, and even your home itself today can connect to the Internet, in order to provide you with much better and smarter services, and this is in addition to other factors that led to the existence of the so-called big data.


What is the importance of computer networks?

It is almost impossible to mention the uses of networks, they are used in almost everything around us from communication to banking and financial systems.

Since the nineties and eighties, networks, especially the Internet, began to enter all sectors of life, and since then we cannot do without them.

If we could talk about the importance of computer networks in a few points, they would be:


1. Sharing and sharing of data

It was the beginning of networks with the aim of transmitting information and data instead of having to transfer it manually and enter it to the other computer, at a time when computers were the size of rooms.

To facilitate this matter and to transfer information and data between devices and each other - whether these computers are in universities, research centers, or companies - we have begun to rely heavily on networks.


2. Sharing computing resources and power

We can now share computing power between different devices on the network, ranging from devices such as printers, faxes, etc.

Now there are many methods that enable us to share storage capacity, GPUs, or CPUs between computers and each other.


3. Communication

This is the importance that we all know and use almost on a daily basis. Networks greatly help us to have fast and efficient communication between devices and each other.

Instead of waiting weeks for the person, you want to talk to calls your messages, and weeks for a reply, you can now simply send them a WhatsApp message and get them in less than a second.


4. Storage efficiency

Instead of everyone storing the same files and data on their device, we can now store the data remotely and use it all.

And at this time there is Cloud Storage which helps us greatly to do this effectively.


5. Reduce cost

Networking has reduced the costs of almost everything that you do, and besides this, it reduces the time taken to do these operations dramatically.


types of computer networks

There are many types of computer networks, which are divided according to their size and the area they cover in order to transfer data between their parties. 

In this article, we will review the most important types:

  • Local Area Network (LAN).
  • Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN).
  • Personal Area Network (PAN).
  • Wide Area Network (WAN).
  • Metropolitan Area Network (MAN).
  • Campus Area Network (CAN).
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN).


Here is a simplified explanation of each type of computer network:

1. LAN or Local Area Network

The first type of network we will talk about is a local area network that connects a limited set of devices and computers to each other.

This type of network is used on a very small scale, for example, within companies or buildings, in order to share information and resources.

These networks range in size from two devices to connected corporate, school, or office devices with each other, and their distinguishing feature is that the devices are geographically very close together.

Or we could say that it serves a geographically limited area in contrast to the other types of networks we are going to talk about, such as MAN or WAN.

Local area networks are also very inexpensive, very fast, and have a very high level of security.


2. Wireless Local Area Network: WLAN or Wireless Local Area Network

Wireless LANs (WLANs) are very similar to LANs, but they do not need any cables, wires, or any physical ties, but rather connect using wireless networks such as WIFI or others.

Here, data is transmitted through the air and not through these wires, but this is almost the only essential difference, but other than this, wireless LANs are similar to local networks in the way they work, advantages and disadvantages.

This type of network may also be called a Local Area Wireless Network or LAWN.


3. PAN or Personal Area Networks

This type of network is one of the simplest and smallest types of the network at all. It is used in the home or office domain and is usually managed by only one person.

As it is usually used to connect a computer to phones, printers, fax machines, or others, it is one of the most limited networks ever, and may not extend for more than a few centimeters or meters.

One of the most widely used types of PAN is the use of Bluetooth and mobile phones or used to connect keyboards or mice to computers.

This network may be connected through wired or wirelessly using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.


4. WAN or: Wide Area Networks

Wide Area Networks (WANs) are very different from LANs. They are somewhat complex and connect many devices over great distances.

It can be said that it is a group of local networks that connect many devices, it is a network of networks or a network consisting of several networks.

We use this type of network a lot, the largest wide area network of all is the Internet that we use in almost all aspects of our lives.

This type of network has many advantages, such as covering very large areas that may reach distant countries and continents, as well as data centering, the ability to store backup copies, exchange messages, share software and resources, and dozens of other advantages.

But there are also many problems or negatives, such as the presence of very large security problems, the need for firewalls and specialized software to maintain network security.


5. MAN or: Metropolitan Area Networks

MANs are midway in size between LANs and WANs and are used locally in many cities.

These networks are used to serve the city or university campuses, and may include a few buildings or reach a group of cities, and have many important uses, whether in the areas of communications, logistical purposes, or even defense.


6. CAN or Campus Area Networks

Campus CANs are very similar to MANs, but are specific to campuses, colleges, and universities, or even large research laboratories, and are usually used for research or educational purposes only.

This type of network is used in many universities around the world, such as Stanford, MIT, and others, and it is very affordable and can meet all the needs of universities and research laboratories.


7. VPN or Virtual Private Networks

VPNs or Virtual Private Networks are a type of network that we come across quite often, but we usually don't know what it is.

It allows us to exchange data through virtual networks that connect them to other remote private networks, and through this, you can connect two places far away from each other to the same network.

If you want to connect a network located in Cairo, for example, to a network located in Riyadh or Jeddah, you can do this easily through a VPN.

We usually use these networks in order to anonymize our online identity and to secure this communication by encrypting all of our activities on the network.


Computer Networks and Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is a very important part of computer networks, as many of these networks, especially the most widely used ones, such as wide area networks (WANs), are vulnerable to many intrusions and electronic attacks.

Therefore, there was a need for a special section in cybersecurity-related to network security, and it is now one of the important and most demanded areas in the world of technology in general.

There are also many other cybersecurity departments or areas that are being used effectively now that are related to networks, such as Identity & Access Management, IoT Security, Cryptography, and other sections.

All these security practices combine to provide the best protection and security for the networks we use in all aspects of our lives.


Conclusion


Computer networks are one of the most important technologies that we use in our lives, and for the past fifty or sixty years, we have not relied on technology as we have relied on it.

Literally, anything you do you will find that there is a network behind it or even helping it to happen, yes, the Internet is after all a network of the many networks that we use.

In this article, we learned about what networks are and how they work, and we got to know the most important types that we use in all aspects of our lives.


Tell us about the topics that most caught your attention in this article, so that we will devote individual articles to them.


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