COMPUTER NETWORK AND TOPOLOGIES

A computer network is a group of computers linked together to share information and resources.

Some of the resources that can be shared on a network are multimedia, files, data, and modem.

Before we go further, we must look at the advantages of computer networks. These advantages are as follows.

1. Easy sharing of data: with the help of a network, any form of data can be shared from one computer to another irrespective of geographical differences.

2. It provides an easy means of communication: With the help of ai network, easy means of communication such as video chatting, text chatting, emails are made possible. All of these will not be possible without a network.

3. Easy sharing of hardware and software: We have all heard of individuals sharing software and application. Software like mobile applications can be shared and installed via a network system.

In the same vein, expensive hardware resources like storage spaces, fax modems can be shared via network.

4. Easy data back-up: Since network data are stored on the server, data can easily be back-up.

TYPES OF NETWORK

A. Local Area Network(LAN)
This is a network of computers limited to a single-administrative building. In other words, A LAN is a collection of computers and peripheral devices connected within schools, universities, and office buildings.

LANs can be wireless or wired. If wireless, it is called a wireless local area network(WLAN).

LANs are usually private. Also, the installation cost is very low as compared to WANs. Plus, the LANs are faster than WANs

One drawback of LANs is that network virus in one system is easily spread to all the LAN users. 

B. Personal Area Network (PAN)
This represents the smallest area of the network. A personal area network is an interconnection of devices within an individual workspace.

PANs usually span 10km. It can either be a full wi-fi, Bluetooth device, or a combination of wi-fi and Bluetooth devices.

PAN may include Bluetooth-enabled headphones, wireless computer keyboards, infra-red enable devices.

A user who transferred music, video, or files from his computer to his phone is using a PAN. Also, transferring music, video, or files from your phone to your friend's phone via Bluetooth is just another application of PAN.

C. Metropolitan Area Network(MAN)
As the name suggests, MANs are networks that span across a large metropolitan area such as a city. MANs usually cover large metropolises ranging from 5 to 50 km.

MANs provide uplinks for connecting LAN to WAN. Cable tv networks and telephone networks are two of the best-known examples of MAN.

D. Wide Area Network(WAN)
This represents the largest area of the network. WAN is a network of computers that may span provinces and countries. 

Because of its large area coverage, WANs are complex and require very high-speed facilities. Plus, it is very costly to set up. The best-known example of WAN is the internet.

NETWORK TOPOLOGY
Network topology is the arrangement with which a group of computers is connected.

There are four basic networks. They include: 
ring topology, star topology, bus topology, mesh topology

Ring topology
In this kind of network topology, every node has exactly two neighbours for communication purposes. 
Ring topology

When a node wants to send a message to a node not adjacent to it, it is sent to a neighbouring node, who in turn, sends it to the next nodes. This continues until the message or data reaches its destination node.

Advantages of ring topology

1. Network server is not needed to control the connectivity between nodes.

2. It is ideal for optical fibres.

3. This kind of topology is ideal for communications between two workstations.

Disadvantages of ring topology
1. Failure of a single node will fail the whole network. Therefore, every node is a point of failure.

2. It is difficult to add or remove one node without disrupting the network.

3. Troubleshooting is difficult as almost all the nodes may have to be inspected before the faulty node is identified.

Star topology 
In this kind of network topology, every node is individually connected to a central hub or switch.
Star topology

Any exchanges of messages between two nodes must pass through the hub or switch. 

Star topology is one of commonest network topologies and is mostly utilized by home networks.

Advantages of star topology

1. Troubleshooting is easy as faulty nodes can easily be identified through the central hub/switch

2. The failure of one node does not affect the whole network.

3. New nodes can be added and removed without disrupting the network. Hence, it is suitable for a large number of computers.

Disadvantages of star topology

1. The performance of the whole network is entirely dependent on the hub. If the hub fails, the whole network fails. Hence, the hub is a point of failure.

2. It is very expensive as it uses more wire and cable.

3. It is a bit complex to create.

Bus topology
In this network topology, all nodes and devices are connected to a cable called a backbone.


It is one of the simplest forms of network topology in which failure in one node may not cause failure in the whole network. 

Bus topology is common in LANs.

Advantages of bus topology

1. It is easy to install and manage.

2. It is very ideal for small area networks like LANs.

3. It is very economical as it uses less cable length than a star topology.

Disadvantages of bus topology
1. Failure of the backbone will certainly lead to failure in the whole network. Hence, the backbone is a point of failure.

2. Adding additional devices may slow the network.

3. Bus topology is not suitable for large networks.

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Mesh topology
In this type of network topology, every node is connected to one or more nodes. In other words, every node is interconnected with one another.

Some mesh topology allows all nodes to be connected to every other node in the topology. This is called full mesh topology.

Others allow the topology to be arranged in some arbitrary manner in which some nodes are called to all nodes while others are connected to a few of the nodes. This is called partial mesh topology.

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