A computer network can be described as a system of interconnected devices that can communicate using some common standards called the Internet protocol suite or TCP/IP. These devices communicate to exchange network resources, such as files and printers, and network services.
Here is an example of a computer network consisting of two computers connected together:
The example above shows that the two computers are directly connected using a cable. This small network can exchange data between just these two computers.
What if we want to expand our network? Then we can use network devices, such as routers, switches, or hubs, to connect two or more computers together:
With the network topology above, all of the devices on the network can communicate with each other. That’s how computer networking works.
We’ll talk more about hubs and switches in just a moment. For now, remember that these devices serve as a central point for network connections to which all computers connect.
Types of Computer Networks
Listed below are the most common types of computer networks:
- Local Area Network (LAN) – LANs are commonly used in small to medium size companies, households, buildings, etc., with limited space.
- Personal Area Network (PAN) – PAN covers a short distance of 10 meters. Bluetooth is an example of PAN.
- Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) – MANs are used in a single geographic region, such as a city or town.
- Wide Area Network (WAN) – WANs cover larger areas like different states and countries.
- Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) – Wireless LAN is used for wireless networks, connecting wired and wireless devices.
Download our Free CCNA Study Guide PDF for complete notes on all the CCNA 200-301 exam topics in one book.
We recommend the Cisco CCNA Gold Bootcamp as your main CCNA training course. It’s the highest rated Cisco course online with an average rating of 4.8 from over 30,000 public reviews and is the gold standard in CCNA training: