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Introduction to Networks Ethernet Definition: Ethernet is a physical and data link layer technology for local area networks

(LANs). Ethernet was invented by engineer Robert Metcalfe. When first widely deployed in the 1980s, Ethernet supported a maximum theoretical data rate of 10 megabits per second (Mbps). Later, so-called "Fast Ethernet" standards increased this maximum data rate to 100 Mbps. Today, Gigabit Ethernet technology further extends peak performance up to 1000 Mbps. Higher level network protocols like Internet Protocol (IP) use Ethernet as their transmission medium. Data travels over Ethernet inside protocol units called frames. The run length of individual Ethernet cables is limited to roughly 100 meters, but Ethernet networks can be easily extended to link entire schools or office buildings using network bridge devices. adapter By Bradley Mitchell, Guide See More About:

types of network hardware wireless network adapters vpn Definition: A network adapter interfaces a computer to a network. The term "adapter" was popularized originally by Ethernet add-in cards for PCs. Modern network adapter hardware exists in several forms. Besides traditional PCI Ethernet cards, some network adapters are PCMCIA devices (also know as "credit card" or "PC Card" adapters) or USB devices. Some wireless network adapter gear for laptop computers are integrated circuit chips pre-installed inside the computer. Windows and other operating systems support both wired and wireless network adapters through a piece of software called a "device driver." Network drivers allow application software to communicate with the adapter hardware. Network device drivers are often installed automatically when adapter hardware is first powered on. A few network adapters are purely software packages that simulate the functions of a network card. These so-called virtual adapters are especially common in virtual private networking (VPN).

Defining a Network In the simplest terms, a network is a group of two or more computers interconnected by cable or some other media, enabling them to share information and resources. Networks make it more efficient to share information and resources than stand-alone computers. As businesses grow, the need to share information and use common applications increases. With a network, a large number of people can simultaneously work on different parts of the same database, share information and resources and communicate across the network. A network serves to integrate the business operation and improve efficiency and productivity. Sharing files is the largest shared resource on a network. Everyone in the company can work from the same consolidated database application, fully integrating all facets of the business operation while greatly reducing manual data transfer by each individual department and reducing the possibilities of human errors and miscommunication. Sharing common printers is the second largest shared resource. For example, say that you wanted everyone to print company correspondence on a high quality laser printer. Without a network, you would have to purchase one of these printers for every computer. With a network, all computers can share a single printer. For a small office, the cost of networking the computers together is probably LESS than the cost of one additional printer. Other shared resources on a network can include scanners, fax machines, modems and copiers. Networks enable us to share information throughout the company, between other companies and all over the world.

Network Types THERE ARE TWO PRIMARY TYPES OF NETWORKS TODAY-CLIENT SERVER AND PEER TO PEER. Peer to Peer Network This is a simple and inexpensive form of networking. Each computer (workstation) on the network acts as both a client (using information) and a server (providing information to others). Each user can access data and other resources on other work stations and can share their own resources by setting share rights on their own directories through password protection known as share level security. This network is well suited to a smaller environment with ten workstations or less and where share level security is sufficient. In addition, all computers with Windows 95/98 or Windows NT as the operating system already have peer to peer networking built in. All you need to establish a network are network adapter cards, properly installed network cabling to connect them and, depending on the type of cabling you choose, a network hub. Advantages

Works well for smaller offices of ten or less workstations Easy to set up Easy to maintain as long as it stays small No need for a dedicated network administrator No need for a file server Software already built in


Becomes more difficult to administrate as it gets larger Individual users must do data backups Share level security becomes inadequate as network grows More dependent on individual user training Not well suited for large database applications due to lack of dedicated file server

Client Server Network This is the most popular type of network today. In this type of network, one or more dedicated file servers will handle file requests from workstations, store and manage files, databases, printers and other network devices. This type of network is more suited for larger environments, where an integrated database is used to run operations and where tighter security is required. The file servers are much more efficient at handling large numbers of file requests. In addition, critical data is stored and backed up at one central location. Finally, this type of network employs user level security. The password of each individual user defines which files, applications and other network resources the user is permitted to access throughout the entire network. To establish this type of network, you will need to purchase a file server, network adapter cards for all workstation, client server software, a network hub and have network cabling professionally installed. Advantages

Much more efficient at handling large databases and managing files User level security makes network easier to use while providing much tighter security Critical data is backed up at one central location Dedicated file servers are more expensive than workstations Need to have at least a part time administrator to maintain the network Need to purchase client server network software



Prior to discussing network topologies, it is necessary to define low level standards. These are guidelines that describe how data (frames) are transmitted across the physical and data link layers of a network. They are developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. The 802.x standard describes guidelines for Ethernet and Token Ring networks. Standards such as 10 BASE T and 10 BASE 2 describe a specific cable type and other limitations for Ethernet, such as Category 5 unshielded twisted pair for 100 BASE T, or Fast Ethernet.

Bus topology Bus topology refers to a single cable that connects all the workstations, servers, printers and other devices on the network. The cable runs from device to device by using tee connectors that plug into the network adapter cards. Each end device has a terminator on one end of the tee and a cable going out to the next device on the other end, while all devices in the middle have one cable coming in and one going out. The terminators on each end device simply stop the network signal from reflecting back into the cable and colliding with other transmissions. The most common type of network cable used for a bus topology is RG-58 thin net. The network speed is limited to 10 megabits per second, making it a suitable media for only 10 BASE 2 Ethernet. There are also network size limitations. You may have a maximum of twenty network devices on a segment, and the segment cannot exceed 185 meters in total length. By using a device called a repeater that boosts the signal, you can have up to five segments on a network. However, only three of these segments can have devices attached to them. The other two segments are used to link the three populated segments, giving you a maximum number of sixty devices with a total network length of 925 meters. This topology works equally well for either peer to peer or client server. Advantages

Less expensive than a star topology due to less footage of cabling and no network hubs Good for smaller networks not requiring higher speeds Limited in size and speed One bad connector can take down entire network Difficult to troubleshoot


Star Topology In a star topology, each network device has a home run of cabling back to a network hub, giving each device a separate connection to the network. If there is a problem with a cable, it will generally not affect the rest of the network. The most common cable media in use for star topologies is unshielded twisted pair copper cabling. Category 3 is still found frequently in older installations. It is capable of 10 megabits per second data transfer rate, making it suitable for only 10 BASE T Ethernet. Most new installations use Category 5 cabling. It is

capable of data transfer rates of 100 megabits per second, enabling it to employ 100 BASE T Ethernet, also known as Fast Ethernet. More importantly, the brand new 1000 BASE T Ethernet standard will be able to run over most existing Category 5. Finally, fiber optic cable can be used to transmit either 10 BASE T or 100 BASE T Ethernet frames. Two variations of the star topology used by most larger Ethernet networks today are the star bus and star tree topologies. Essentially, the star bus topology has multiple data closets interconnected by bus trunk lines of thin net, while the star tree topology links multiple data closets with twisted pair or fiber optic. These types of network topologies allow a network to cover a much larger physical area. There are size limitations to star topologies utilizing Ethernet. The maximum number of network devices is 1,024 and the maximum number of data closets is four. When using Category 3 or 5 twisted pair cabling, individual cables cannot exceed 100 meters. In regard to total network length, the maximum when linking data closets with twisted pair is 500 meters between the furthest two devices. If multi-mode fiber optic is used to link closets, then the distance between closets can be up to 2,000 meters. Advantages

More suited for larger networks Easy to expand network Easy to troubleshoot because problem usually isolates itself Cabling types can be mixed Hubs become a single point of network failure, not the cabling Cabling more expensive due to home run needed for every device


Ring Topology Ring topologies are used on token ring networks. Each device processes and retransmits the signal, so it is capable of supporting many devices in a somewhat slow but very orderly fashion. A token, or small data packet, is continuously passed around the network. When a device needs to transmit, it reserves the token for the next trip around, then attaches its data packet to it. The receiving device sends back the packet with an acknowledgment of receipt, then the sending device puts the token back out on the network. Most token ring networks have the physical cabling of a star topology and the logical function of a ring through use of multi access units (MAU). In a ring topology, the network signal is passed through each network card of each device and passed on to the next device. All devices have a cable home runned back to the MAU. The MAU makes a logical ring connection between the devices internally. When each device signs on or off, it sends an electrical signal which trips mechanical switches inside the MAU to either connect the device to the ring or drop it off the ring. The most common type of cabling used for token ring networks is twisted pair, although there are nine different types that can be used. With IBM Type 1 Shielded cable, you can have up to 33 network segments with 260 devices on each. Transmission rates are at either 4 or 16 megabits per second. Advantages

Very orderly network where every device has access to the token and the opportunity to transmit Performs better than a star topology under heavy network load

Can create much larger network using Token Ring One malfunctioning workstation or bad port in the MAU can create problems for the entire network Moves, adds and changes of devices can affect the network Network adapter cards and MAU's are much more expensive than Ethernet cards and hubs Much slower than an Ethernet network under normal load