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Connecting Lines: Computer Networking Explained

Jul 29, 2008
In a nutshell, computer networking is basically a cluster of computers linked together in a way that it can transmit data and share resources. These sets of connections do not necessitate that the computers bear the same operating systems (OS); it does not even require that similar types of gadgets be used. A perfect example is a personal data assistant (PDA). One may connect a PDA to a laptop over a network. Even kitchen appliances like the internet enabled refrigerator uses networking to activate its surfing functions.

How Is Networking Done?

There are various methods to link computers and other gadgets to a network. And among the plethora of ways and means, the most common networking method is the use of cables. The market provides an assortment of cables from copper-wired to fiber optics each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Copper Wire: Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable (UTP)

The UTP is one of the frequently utilized cables for a local area network (LAN) connection, which is essentially linking a few computers within a small geographical area (thus the name, LAN). Going back to the UTP, this is composed of two unshielded and insulated copper wires coiled and twisted together to diminish electrical interference. This type of cable is often opted due to its flexibility, easy maintenance and low cost. The downside, it can (and will) possibly receive severe blows from electrical interference.

Fiber Optics

Data is exchanged by sending voltages along the wire. But for fiber optics, the data is transmitted through light pulses. While the UTP has copper, fiber optics has threadlike strands of glass, or silica. The process goes like this: the laser translates digital signals into pulses of light and conveys it down the series of glass strands. Fiber optics offer rapid data correspondence, though this speed comes with a price, a pocket burning price. With that said, this kind of connection is often seen being utilized by huge internet service providers (ISP) and data centers, not in office or home networks.

Network Topology: Bus Network

Simply put, network topology is the physical formation of the network. And the bus network is the most straightforward among the various network topologies. Let us begin with the bus. All the machines link up to a linear transmission channel, or the bus.

In operation, when a computer sends off data through the bus, all connected machines can see the data, otherwise known as packet. These packets possess pieces of information tagged as packet headers. And these headers, in turn, reflect the recipient or to which computer or machine the data is intended for. The bus inspects the header: if it is for that computer then the whole packet is recognized and received, but if it is not, it will be merely ignored.

The Downside: One at a Time

Unfortunately, the bus can only handle a single data at any given time. In here, two is a crowd. Imagine what could happen if three computers in the network simultaneously transmit data. Well, you will certainly have a few network problems if this collision happens. Speaking of collision, if and when two computers concurrently send data, the main computer (or the first one that notices the collision) will transmit a blocking sign onto the bus. This will trigger a standstill among the linked computers preventing any further data exchange.

Network Interface Cards (NIC)

NICs usually control the 'to and fro' or the transmission of packets across the wires bridging the computers in a single network. It also provides a venue of communication among the computers.


Hub is intended for small-scale computer networking. The problem with this is that it does not sort packets, meaning the data may be sent to the wrong recipient. Another is that the data will be open for everyone in the network. Security wise, this is not the way to go.


To speed things up, this is a network device that diffuses data packets between two networks bearing different protocols. Yes, it is that blinking box that allows you to connect to the web.

There you go. This is simply scratching the surface of networking. You may opt to scour the internet for more information.
About the Author
The Auther of this article is Benedict Yossarian. Benedict recommends New Horizons IT courses such as MCSE, CCNA and Photoshop Training . Benedict recommends Comm Store for hardware such as swtiches and Cat5e UTP cable.
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