The ICT Lounge
Section 4.1:
An Introduction to Computer Networking

In this section we will discuss what networks are, including advantages and disadvantages of using them.

Key Concepts of this section:
Understand what a network is.
Know what networks enable us to do.
Be able to describe advantages and disadvantages of setting up a computer network.

Computer networks
Key Words:
Network, Resources, Linked, Communicate.
What is a computer network?
A computer network consists of 2 or more computers or electronic devices such as printers that have been linked together in order to share data.

A network is two or more computers joined together.
Computers on a network can share the same printer.
Computers can be connected together using
network cables.
Computers can be connected to a network
using Wi-Fi.
School networks allow students to access their data from any computer.
A network can break down if network cables are damaged.
Too few printers on a network can cause print queues (printer has too many jobs at once).
Networks can vary in size, for example:
  • Home/school networks can consist of only a few linked computers
  • Huge networks (like the internet) can consist of billions of computers.
Computers not connected to a network are known as 'stand-alone' computers.

What do networks enable us to do?
Networks allow users to:
  • Share files
  • Send emails to each other
  • Share resources (like printers or scanners).

How are networked computers joined together?
Computers on networks are usually connect using:
  • Cables (if the computers are linked together in the same room/building)
  • Radio signals (Wi-Fi)
  • Telephone lines and satellites (for long-range connections).

Advantages and disadvantages of computer networks:
Advantages of computer networks
Connecting computers together on a network offers some advantages:
Resources such as printers, scanners and internet can be shared
Files and data can be shared
Easy to communicate with people on the network
(email, messaging, video-conferencing etc)
We can access our data from any computer (like your student: drive at school)
Data can be backed up to a separate computer for security
Network administrator can control the network (changing passwords, monitor the internet etc)

Connecting computers together on the internet offers the following advantages:
Access huge amount of information and files
Communicate with people around the world (msn, Skype etc)
Access large amounts of media and entertainment
(like music, YouTube videos etc)
Use on-line services like online shopping and banking etc

Disadvantages of computer networks
Computers connected to a network can run into problems such as:
If part of the network fails (i.e. a network cable is severed) – this can cause the whole network to break down (data can't pass through the damaged cable)
Viruses can spread across the network very easily and quickly
If a computer on the network is hacked into then all other computers are prone to attack
Networks that use too few printers can see printing queues develop
(due to the amount of people trying to print)

Computers connected over the internet have a different set of disadvantages:
We are very prone to virus and spyware infection from other internet users
We are open to ‘phishing’ and other scams which target internet users for personal details such as bank numbers etc
We can leave ourselves and our children exposed to undesirable material


Click the above task and answer the questions about
networking basics.

Please add your questions/comments below:

Links to Theory Units:
Links to Practical Units:
Section 11: File Management
Section 12: Images
Section 13: layout
Section 14: Styles
Section 15: Proofing
Section 16: Graphs and Charts
Section 17: Document Production
Section 18: Data Manipulation
Section 19: Presentations
Section 20: Data Analysis
Section 21: Website Authoring