A computer network is a group of interconnected computers. Networks make it possible for several people to share data and peripherals simultaneously. If many people need to use a printer, they can all use the printer available on the network. Computer network is comprised of connectivity devices and components. To share data and resources between two or more computers is known as networking. There are different types of a computer network such as LAN, MAN, WAN and wireless network. The key devices involved that make the infrastructure of a computer network are Hub, Switch, Router, Modem, Access point, LAN card and network cables. Before the advent of networks, computer users needed their own printers, plotters, and other peripherals; the only way users could share a printer was to take turns sitting at the computer connected to the printer. A network can be any size. For Example, connecting two home computers so they can share data creates a simple network. Companies can have networks consisting of a few dozen computers or hundreds of computers. The Internet is the world’s largest network and connects millions of computers all over the world.
Network devices are connected in different ways called “topology”. Topology refers to the physical layout of the network i.e. the locations of the computers and how the cable is run between them. To select the right topology for how the network will be used is very important. Each topology has its own strength and weaknesses. Lets have a look upon popular network topologies:
Star / hierarchical– Computers in a star topology are connected by cables to a hub. In this topology management of the network is made much easier (such as adding and removing devices), because of the central point. However because it is centralized more cable is required.
Bus – In bus topologies, all computers are connected to a single cable or “trunk or backbone”, by a transceiver either directly or by using a short drop cable. All ends of the cable must be terminated, that is plugged into a device such as a computer or terminator. Most bus topologies use coax cables.
Mesh – A Mesh topology Provides each device with a point-to-point connection to every other device in the network. These are most commonly used in WAN’s, which connect networks over telecommunication links. Mesh topologies use routers to determine the best path.
Ring – In a ring topology network computers are connected by a single loop of cable, the data signals travel around the loop in one direction, passing through each computer. Ring topology is an active topology because each computer repeats (boosts) the signal before passing it on to the next computer.
Wireless – A wireless network consists of wireless NICs and access points. NICs come in different models including PC Card, ISA, PCI, etc. Access points act as wireless hubs to link multiple wireless NICs into a single subnet. Access points also have at least one fixed Ethernet port to allow the wireless network to be bridged to a traditional wired Ethernet network, such as the organization’s network infrastructure. Wireless and wired devices can coexist on the same network.
Understanding basics of networking will help you to configure and share network printers.