A computer network is a collection of computing devices such as computers, laptops, or mobile devices that communicate by exchanging data over a wired or wireless medium. In a networked environment, you can share data and applications and services with other us on the network. In addition, devices such as modems, printers, Universal Serial Bus (USB) drives, and CD-ROMs can also be shared among the users on a network.
A common example of networking in organizations is where several employee computers share a printer or a scanner.
To create a network, you require:
- At least two computing devices.
- Network Interface Cards (NICs) in each connected device.
- A network medium, either wired or wireless.
- A network operațing system, such as Windows, Linux, or Novell.
Networks are broadly classified into two categories.
In a peer-to-peer network, all the computers in a network are responsible for communication and data sharing. Small LANs used in homes, schools, and small businesses are examples of peer-to-peer networks. All the computers included in a peer-to-peer network have the same associated applications and networking protocols.
Consider an example. Artz University, a media training institute, has five computers in its media lab. Each of these computers is used for specific functions such as 3D modeling, 3D rendering, audio editing, video editing, and integration. In this scenario, all these computers in the lab can be connected over a peer-to-peer network.
Advantages of Peer-to-Peer Networks
Advantages of a peer-to-peer network are that it is easy to install and configure. Just like the lab network in Artz University, all peers in a network can share all the resources and content. In addition, the failure of one peer does not affect the functioning of other peers.
In a peer-to-peer network, every user is the administrator of his or her computer and users can control their shared resources. As a result, a full-time system administrator is not required.
Disadvantages of Peer-to-Peer Networks
DIsadvantages of a peer-to-peer network is that data recovery or backup is extremely difficult. Therefore, each computer should have its own backup system. In addition, a peer-to-peer network is not secure. Viruses, spyware, Trojans, and malware can be easily transmitted over this type of network. Also, the entire system is decentralized and thus difficult to administer.
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2. Client/Server Architecture
In client/server architecture, all computing resources and services are provided by a computer called a server. Other computers in the network that request resources and services from the server are known as clients. The following figure displays the working of a client/server network.
For example, PQR Corp. has an e-mail server that provides all e-mail services. There are many client computers connected to this server. To receive emails from outside the network, the clients send requests to the mail server, which sends e-mails to the clients.
Advantages of Client/Server Network
A client/server network provides the advantage of better control of resources for every device and computer connected to it. In addition, client/server architecture provides access to multiple applications and hardware devices and ensures better security for data and devices. The server in the client/server architecture acts as a data storage device.
Disadvantages of Client/Server Network
A disadvantage of a client/server network is that it is expensive and difficult to implement and maintain. In addition, if the server fails, the entire network fails.