This article defines computer networking and gives a simple explanation
of how data is transmitted on a network. It explains the benefits of networking
computers and their advantages and disadvantages.
(Andrews, p.896 / McFredries, p.982
Networking is a means of connecting computers together so that
they can share resources, such as files and peripherals (printers,
modems, CD-ROM drives, etc.) and services.
Networking involves using both hardware and software.
File and Secondary Storage
- Word processing and spreadsheet files
- Large databases (inventory, accounting, customer base)
- CD-ROM drives
- Electronic mail
- Groupware (Scheduling and Project Management)
- Database applications such as Point of Sales
Besides the convenience of making information easier to share, the
advantages are chiefly economic and administrative.
- Sharing peripherals makes them accessible without having to
purchase them for each and every machine.
- Backup of critical information is more convenient when it is
centrally-located in common storage areas,
- Access to sensitive information can be controlled using network
- User interfaces can be standardized, leading to reduced training
- Applications can be installed and configured centrally, saving
time and effort
- Reduced performance - file access slower
- Less flexibility for individual users
- Administration becomes more difficult as networks become large and complex
Transmission of Data
Data is transmitted across the network in the form of bits and
bytes translated into electrical signals (each bit being on or off,
or positive or negative).
Before being transmitted, bytes are arranged into segments for
transmission over a network. Each segment of data is attached to a
header and a trailer.
- The header precedes the data and identifies the data's
destination and the protocols used by the packet.
- The trailer follows the data and is used by some protocols for
The header and trailer are referred to as a frame and the entire
package, frame and data, is called a packet.
Packets are transmitted (as bits and bytes) separately over the
At the receiving end, the headers and trailers are removed and the
data from all the packets is reassembled into contiguous data.
On a PC, the process of breaking data down into packets and then
reassembling them is carried out by the firmware on the network