Components of a Network


A Hub receives all data sent over the network and sends it to all the other devices on the network. Only the device who the data packet is for will acknowledge it, the other networks will ignore it.


A switch is a bit more intelligent than a hub as it learns which devices are on the network and only sends the data packet to the computer who is the intended recipient. This is more efficient than a hub as it doesn't result in lots of unnecessary network traffic. Like a sorting office at a post office.


A router is cleverer still than both the hubs and switches. It can redirect network traffic and deal with different packets in different ways. It can protect the computers on the network by hiding them from the outside world. Some routers have a modem built in and wireless capabilities


A computer or computer program that manages access to a centralized resource or service in a network.It provides data to other computers and may serve data to systems on a Local Area Network (LAN) or a Wide Area Network (WAN) over the internet.


The client is the different things (e.g. computers, printers) which are connected to a network and receive/send information in the network.


Network Interface Card provides the hardware interface between a computer and a network. Technically it is network adapter hardware in the form factor of an add-in card. In new computers, many NICs are now pre-installed by the manufacturer.


A Local Area Network covers a small area, such as one site or building. An example of this is a SCHOOL where all the computers are connected together to a server which shares data.


Wide Area Network covers a large geographical area and most WANs are made from several LANs connected together. An example of this is the INTERNET.

Client Server Network

In your school you will be able to use your files on computers in different buildings. This is because they are not stored on the computer that you are using but are on a file server somewhere else in the school. The file server is a specialized computer with a different role to the normal PC. There will also be an email server and a web server on the network.

In a large network it is common to have shared files and resources on centralized servers. The computers that you use around school are referred to as clients. The advantage of a client server network is that management is centralized and clients are not dependent on other clients just the server.

Peer to Peer Network

In smaller offices this is not practical if you run a small company with a handful of computers it is not cost effective to have a specialized server or someone to run the network. in a small office the computers will simply be cabled together. Each computer is configured so it will share specified files and folders with other peer computers on the LAN. PCs on the LAN can only access files on another computer if access rights have been granted. This is called peer to peer network because all of the computers have equal status and the same role in the network.

A Ring Network

A Bus Network

A Star Network