A network joining a computer with another computer or with a group of computers using a communication protocol (in simple words “channel”) is called a computer network.  These computers over the network are called nodes (in simple words “point of connection”) and are meant for data exchange and sharing. 

One easiest example of a computer network is the home or small office setup where we have printers connected over the wifi.  We give a print command on our laptop (first node) which is transferred to another node, our printer, over the wifi (communication protocol) with the help of a router (another node).   Because this is limited to our home or business office, it is called a “Local Area Network (LAN)”.

local area network (LAN)
Local Area Network (LAN)

Another example at a bigger level is our Internet that we use every day.  Because the Internet connects billions of users and over different continents it is an example of “Wide Area Network (WAN)”.

Wide Area Network (WAN)
Wide Area Network (WAN)

Types of networks based on coverage area:

  1. Personal Area Network (PAN)
  2. Local Area Network (LAN)
  3. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
  4. Wide Area Network (WAN)
  5. Campus Area Network (CAN)
  6. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

Types of networks based on usability:

  1. Storage-Area Network (SAN)
  2. System-Area Network (also known as SAN)
  3. Passive Optical Local Area Network (POLAN)
  4. Enterprise Private Network (EPN)
  5. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

The connecting nodes can be a printer, desktop, router, laptop, or server which are connected in a particular arrangement. This arrangement is called the Network Topology. 

There are six main types of network topologies:

  1. Ring or Collapsed Ring Topology (Most common)
  2. Bus Topology
  3. Mesh Topology
  4. Hybrid Topology
  5. Tree Topology
  6. Star Topology

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