A network is a group of computers that are able to communicate with each other.

A network can consist of Laptops, Desktop PCs, Tablets, Smartphones, Printers, Servers etc.

Networks are used for a number of reasons:

A network can be both wired and wireless or a combination of both.

You may be part of a network now as you use this resource:

A network can be one of several different sizes, all you need to learn is the most common two:

Example of a LAN

A common misconception is that if you were to run your own cable from one site to another, this would be classed as a WAN due to the distance. This is incorrect as you would own the cable between the two sites, unlike if you were to use a third party cable in order to connect; therefore this would still be a LAN.

Example of a WAN

Before a computer can be connected to a network it needs to have a piece of hardware known as a network interface card (NIC) or wireless network interface card (WNIC).

Components of a computer network


Client–Server Network - in which server computers provide services for client workstations.

Hub - Device that channels a number of input signals into one output line.

LAN - Local area network

NIC - Network interface card/controller

Packet - A unit of data sent on a packet switching network.

Peer-to-Peer Network - in which all the computers are of equal status.

Topology - The layout of a network. WAN Wide area network