PC Hardware

Wide Area Networks

A wide area network (WAN) spans relatively large geographical areas. Connections for these sites require the use of ordinary telephone lines, T1 lines, ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) lines, radio waves, or satellite links. WANs can be accessed through dial-up connections, using a modem, or leased line direct connection. The leased-line method is more expensive but can be cost-effective for transmission of large volumes of data.

Types of Networks

There are essentially two types of networks.

  1. Peer-to-peer Network

  2. Server Network

They differ in how information is stored, how security is handled, and how the computers on the network interact.

Peer-to-peer Network

In a peer-to-peer network, each computer acts as either a server (sharing its data or services with other computers), or a client (using data or services on another computer) depending on the user's needs. Each user, or workstation, establishes its own security and determines which resources are available to other users. Typically these networks are limited in size (15 to 20 workstations). Microsoft Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95 and Windows 98, Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000, Novell's NetWare, UNIX, and Linux are some software packages available for peer-to-peer networking.

Server network

A server network requires a central server (dedicated computer) to manage access to all shared files and peripherals. This is a secure environment suitable for most organizations. In this case, the server is a computer that runs the network operating system, manages security, and administers access to resources. The client is a computer that connects to the network and uses the available resources. The two most common server operating systems are Microsoft's NT4 Server and Novell's IntranetWare. Prior to the release of Windows NT, most dedicated servers worked only as hosts. Windows NT allows the server to also operate as an individual workstation. More than one server can provide services on the network, but only one can be responsible for the security and overall operation of the network.