"Network Fundamentals - What you Needs to Know Before you Setup a Network?"

Network Fundamentals (Introduction)

A network system is link made for the purpose of sharing various resources. Resources usually shared are files, printers, application and certain devices.

Sharing can increase personal and workgroup productivity. Capital cost saving can also be gained by sharing printers and devices, sharing software licenses and better utilization of computing resources.

It's good to know the hardware and software requirements to setup a network. Here are the basic requirements:

  • More than 1 PC with NIC driver installed (for each PCs)
  • Network Interface Card (NIC) - one for each PC / Integrated
  • Hub / Switch / Router - connects the PCs in the network
  • Network Cables - one for each PC
  • Network Operating System (e.g. Win XP, Win Vista, Linux, etc)

Network Interface Card (NIC)

It is also known as network card or network adapter. The driver normally comes with the card and provides the software interface between the systems. Most of the NIC nowadays are PnP (plug and play) whereby it will be detected automatically by the Windows system.

Today most of the main board comes with build-in network controller and you just need to install the driver from the main board manufacturer drivers CD.

Speed of NIC

  • 10 Mbps / Base
  • 100 Mbps / Base
  • 1000 Mbps / Base

Types of network cables

(1) UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair)

  • Cable name: Cat 5 / Cable 5
  • The connector for the cable called RJ45
  • Maximum lengths: 100 meters
  • Safety connection and handling: No snapping or sharp angle bending on the cables; pressing on the connector nip when disconnecting the cables

(2) Fibre Optics

  • more expensive compare with the other types of cables
  • very stable for carrying a huge amount of data at extremely high speeds

Types of network structure

  • LAN (Local Area Network) - within an office or building
  • MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) - within a city
  • WAN (Wide Area Network) - within a country

Types of network architecture

  • Peer to peer
peer to peer model

This architecture is simpler and cheaper, but not for heavy loads. The PCs can change role between a server and a client. The client PC can modify the server PC's resources.

This is a type of network in which each PC has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. This differs from client-server architectures, in which some computers are dedicated to serving the others. Peer-to-peer networks are generally simpler and less expensive, but they usually do not offer the same performance under heavy loads.

Basically, peer-to-peer networks do not use a central server to store files or to host printers. In a peer-to-peer network, the workstations share hard drives and printers, acting as part-time servers. In addition to providing computing services to the user at a workstation, the computer must service file and print requests from other computers on the network. Of course, if a workstation is not sharing a printer or any hard drive space, then the workstation acts only as a client to another workstation that provides file and print services on the network.

  • Client Server
client server model

PCs cannot change the role between a server and a client after setting up the network. In this architecture, the client PC can only use the server PC's resources, but cannot make any changes on it.

A network architecture in which each computer or process on the network is either a client or a server. Servers are powerful computers or processes dedicated to managing disk drives (file servers), printers (print servers), or network traffic (network servers). Clients are PCs or workstations on which users run applications. Clients rely on servers for resources, such as files, devices and even processing power.

Generally, Client-Server networks use a dedicated computer (the server) that centrally handles all files and print services for many users. The clients on the network are workstations that connect to the server. Client workstations are typically computers at a worker's desk that they use for spreadsheet or word-processing tasks. Network clients can print to the server's printer or save files to the server's hard drive. Server, on the other hand, is typically powerful machine that is optimized for providing the fastest response to network clients and the most protection for the network's data.

Switch or Hub

This is a hybrid device that provides connection within a network system. Switch/hub has ports for connection, status and activity lights to monitor active connection. The following are an example of a 16-port switch.

16 ports switch

Number of Ports
5 ports - Can connect up to 5 PCs
8 ports - Can connect up to 8 PCs
12 ports - Can connect up to 12 PCs
16 ports - Can connect up to 16 PCs
24 ports - Can connect up to 24 PCs
48 ports - Can connect up to 48 PCs

Speed of Switch/Hub

10 Base - Operates at the speed of 10 Mbps
100 Base - Operates at the speed of 100 Mbps
1000 Base - Operates at the speed of 1000 Mbps

I hope these network fundamentals lesson will help you discover more basic networking knowledge. To continue setup network, read the networking hardware setup.

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