NetworksComputer Networks.  How do they work??


Computer Networks.  We use them every day at home, Starbucks, and at work.  I will explain some basic terminology on wired and wireless networks so you can be better informed and understand how a network works.  Here are some familiar terms and their definitions.

Network– A network is simply a collection of computers or other hardware devices connected together using special hardware and software.

LAN (Local Area Network) – A LAN is formed from computers and components in a single office building.

WAN (Wide Area Network) – A Wide Area Network is basically many locations with a LAN connected by high speed cable forming a WAN.

VPN (Virtual Private Network) – A virtual private network is “tunneled” through a wide area network WAN such as the Internet. This means the network does not have to be located in one physical location like a LAN.

Internet – The World Wide Web is the most visible part of the world’s largest network.  The Internet is really a network of networks all of which are connected through Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol or also known as TCP/IP.

Intranets – Intranets are a portion of a company’s private network, unlike the Internet the content is restricted to authorized company employees only.  Essentially, an Intranet is a private Internet.

Extranet – An Extranet is a group of Intranets that share a portion of their content with customers, suppliers, or other businesses, but not with the general public.

Protocol – A protocol is a set of rules or standards that must be followed in order for the network to work properly.

Network Interface Card (NIC) – The NIC acts as the physical interface or connection between the computer and the network cable.  Ethernet cards are the most widely used card for network connection. Each NIC installed on a networked device is given a unique address so the network can identify the device.

Router – This is a hardware device that routes data (hence the name) from a local area network (LAN) to another network connection. A router acts like a coin sorting machine, keep log files about the local network activity.

Network Sharing Devices – Many different types of devices can be shared over a network.  The most common are: Printers, Storage Devices, Modems, Cameras, Media Players/Recorders, and Game Consoles.  These devices are also given a unique address so the network can identify them.

Software Sharing – Multiple users can share and access software data and files by purchasing only one software with multiple licenses.


Please feel free to forward this information to others.  If you would like to learn more on this topic or would like to request an area of technology you are interested in, please contact me.

About Michael DeFlorio
I have worked is various positions as a system administrator, support technician, as a help desk support, and as an IT consultant in a corporate environment. I currently run a small business where I provide computer services such as hardware configuration, installation, for residential and for medium and small businesses. You can contact me by email or visit my website at

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