NETWORKING from Computech 2000 Computer Services

By: Computech 2000 Computer Services  25/09/2010
Keywords: network support

 When asked "Why do we build networks?" many reply "To Share Data."  However, that is not strictly true.  The real reason we create networks is to share resources.  The subtle difference in terminology indicates that networking extends to more than just sharing information, but includes a wide-range of logical and physical devices, such as folders and printers.

For instance why create a domestic network commonly known as a "Workgroup."  In the main it is to share such resources as the home Internet connection, whether it is via network cable or wireless signal.  In order to further reduce household computing costs a shared printer is also another reason for having a home network.

There are predominately two types of computer network environment.  The first is commonly known as a "WORKGROUP" and the second is the "DOMAIN."  Although both are networks, designed to share resources, they are fundamentally difference in design and use.

WORKGROUP (Peer-to-Peer)

The Workgroup is normally reserved for home or small business environments, and where there are less than 10 computers in use, and centralised administration and security are not an issue.  It is easy to set up and share basic resources such as printers and Internet connections, however, there are limitations.  Each computer in the Workgroup can act as both a client and a server, which means that each computer can provide and receive services.  Such an environment does mean that each user in the group will require a password to access another computer, and therefore due to the number of passwords in circulation, security can be quickly compromised.  Also there is no centralised administration, so there is no control over the overall network.  Consequently, workgroups are only reserved for small localised areas such as the home or single office.

Computers in a "Workgroup" are fitted with network cards (NIC) and connected to each other using Ethernet RJ45 Cable normally connected through a HUB or SWITCH that controls the passage of data packets around the network.  Such a network is also referred to as a STAR topology, because of the logical star formation.

Workgroup networks can over time become quite messy when it comes to accessing shared folders on different computers, therefore it is always better to designate just one computer as the storage server, and all others connect to one PC to access the network resources.  This does work very well in a small environment, but if a network has more than 10 computers it is time to consider the alternative network configuration, which is the DOMAIN based version.DOMAIN (Server / Client)The Domain network configuration consists of one or more computers being designated as Servers.  User's computers are referred to as Clients.  The Server has special server software, which offers enhanced security and centralised administration.  Users connect to the network through the Server using a unique username and password.  Once connected to the network, user's access to various resources is further controlled by the use of "Permissions."  The permissions granted to users are layered and provide varying degrees of access to a particular resource, and can include Full, Modify, Read & Execute, Read and Write.  All of this is controlled centrally by a Systems Administrator. 

Domain Servers have specialised software allowing them to serve the network, and client computers also need Windows software that is compatible with the domain configuration.  For instance Windows XP HOME would not connect to a domain, it would require Windows XP Professional.  In a similar fashion Vista and  Windows 7 Professional versions would need to be versions that are able to connect to a domain.Other features can be added to a domain network, such as an Exchange Mail Server designed to control user's email, however, this can become expensive, and for small to medium businesses is not really necessary, and could be putting all your eggs in one basket, especially if the Exchange Server crashes.Internet access can also be easily integrated into either a Workgroup or Domain network.  If you are considering setting up some form of network for your home or small business, we would be pleased to arrange a FREE! survey and design plan.

Keywords: network support

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