A network is a collection of computers and related devices, connected so that they can communicate with each other and share information, software, peripheral devices, and/or processing power.

Classification of networks

  • Local Area Network or LAN
  • Metropolitan Area Network or MAN
  • Wide Area Network or WAN
  • personal area network (PAN)
  • LAN covers a small region of space, typically a single building. maximum  network coverage is about 3 km and is characterized by high speed data transmission
  • MAN is a collection of LANs within the same geographical area, for instance a city. It enables network coverage of 10 t0 16 miles.
  • WAN is a long distance network: it connects systems together throughout a country or even beyond the border. It is characterized by low data rates and hardware and software components come form a wide variety of vendors.
  • A personal area network (PAN) is the interconnection of information technology devices within the range of an individual person, typically within a range of 10 meters. For example, a person traveling with a laptop, a personal digital assistant (PDA), and a portable printer could interconnect them without having to plug anything in, using some form of wireless technology. Typically, this kind of personal area network could also be interconnected without wires to the Internet or other networks.

Network topology

Topology refers to the layout of connected devices on a network. Network topologies are categorized into the following basic types:

  1. Bus topology

Bus network use a common backbone to connect all devices. A single cable, the backbone functions as a shared communication medium that devices attach or tap into with an interface connector. A device wanting to communicate with another device on the network sends a broadcast message onto the wire that all other devices see, but only the intended recipient actually accepts and processes the message.

2.Ring Topology

In a ring network, every device has exactly two neighbors for communication purposes. All messages travel through a ring in the same direction (either “clockwise” or “counterclockwise”). A failure in any cable or device breaks the loop and can take down the entire network.

3.Star Topology

A star network features a central connection point called a “hub” that may be a hub, switch or router. Devices typically connect to the hub with Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Ethernet. Compared to the bus topology, a star network generally requires more cable, but a failure in any star network cable will only take down one computer’s network access and not the entire LAN. (If the hub fails, however, the entire network also fails.)

4.Tree Topology

Tree topologies integrate multiple star topologies together onto a bus. In its simplest form, only hub devices connect directly to the tree bus, and each hub functions as the “root” of a tree of devices. This bus/star hybrid approach supports future expandability of the network much better than a bus (limited in the number of devices due to the broadcast traffic it generates) or a star (limited by the number of hub connection points) alone

5.Mesh Topology

Mesh topologies involve the concept of routes. Unlike each of the previous topologies, messages sent on a mesh network can take any of several possible paths from source to destination. (even in a ring, although two cable paths exist, messages can only travel in one direction.) Some WANs, most notably the Internet, employ mesh routing.

A mesh network in which every device connects to every other is called a full mesh. As shown in the illustration below, partial mesh networks also exist in which some devices connect only indirectly to others.


Electronic Mail – E-mail, also known as electronic mail, is one of the most popular Internet services. E-mail allows you to send messages to one person, or to send a message simultaneously to a group of people. One of the greatest advantages of e-mail over other forms of communication is the convenience to the recipient. Messages wait in your mailbox until you open it. Another advantage of an Internet e-mail account is that you can check your e-mail from any location with an internet connection.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)-This facility is a method of gaining limited access to another machine in the Internet, and obtaining files from it. You need full Internet connectivity, to do ftp interactively. FTP has many advantages, for example, it allows you to get new free software, or updated versions of old programs, as well as useful data for your research. The most common way of using FTP is via anonymous FTP. When you start an ftp connection, you will be asked for a user name and a password.

Telnet: logging in to Remote Network Computers – Telnet is the Internet facility that allows you to execute commands on a remote host (another computer, most likely one to which you do not have physical access) as if you were logged in locally. You need to know the name of the machine to which you want to connect, and to have a valid user name in it. There is no such thing as “anonymous” telnet.

Usenet Newsgroups Usenet newsgroups, also called bulletin boards, are a similar e-mail conferencing system, but are less intrusive to the subscriber than list serves since messages are posted to Usenet sites around the world instead of appearing in each subscriber’s mailbox. Usenet refers to the huge collection of messages which are posted to tens of thousands of newsgroups worldwide. Millions of people around the world regularly read newsgroup messages, following their favourite topics of interest. New newsgroups are added and old ones deleted every day. Usenet can provide a unique information resource not readily accessible from any other source. If you are looking for personal anecdotes about products, especially computer-related hardware and software products, how-to information, practical advice, or the latest news stories, newsgroup archives may be a valuable resource.

Internet Chat

Communication on the Internet goes even further than personal e-mail, newsgroups and mailing lists, to encompass real-time conversations (synchronous communication) among two or more people. Chat is available on the Internet through Internet Relay Chat or IRC. It consists of thousands of chat channels, each covering a different topic and with participants from all over the world.

Web Conferencing Many institutions are discovering new ways to integrate Internet communications into their organizations. One of the most popular ways is through the use of web or online conferencing.

Web conferencing is currently being used by businesses for employee training, meetings and general communication. Educational institutions are using web conferencing as a way to enhance on-site classes or distance education classes. Web conferencing is a tool which provides a way for “students” to share information, ask questions, get answers, discuss problems and work collaboratively. Conferencing provides opportunities to solve issues by providing a dynamic exchange of text, graphics, HTML links to information, audio, and video in a structured conversation organized by topic. Web conferences may take place in “real-time” where all participants are communicating at the same pre-arranged time.