A computer network, or simply a network, is a collection of computers and other hardware interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information. Where at least one process in one device is able to send/receive data to/from at least one process residing in a remote device, then the two devices are said to be in a network. A network is a group of devices connected to each other. Networks may be classified into a wide variety of characteristics, such as the medium used to transport the data, communications protocol used, scale, topology, benefit, and organizational scope.
Communications protocols define the rules and data formats for exchanging information in a computer network, and provide the basis for network programming. Well-known communications protocols include two Ethernet, a hardware and link layer standard that is ubiquitous in local area networks, and the Internet protocol suite, which defines a set of protocols for internetworking, i.e. for data communication between multiple networks, as well as host-to-host data transfer, and application-specific data transmission formats.
Computer networking is sometimes considered a sub-discipline of electrical engineering, telecommunications, computer science, information technology or computer engineering, since it relies upon the theoretical and practical application of these disciplines.
Using a network, people can communicate efficiently and easily via email, instant messaging, chat rooms, telephone, video telephone calls, and video conferencing.
Permit sharing of files, data, and other types of information
In a network environment, authorized users may access data and information stored on other computers on the network. The capability of providing access to data and information on shared storage devices is an important feature of many networks.
Share network and computing resources
In a networked environment, each computer on a network may access and use resources provided by devices on the network, such as printing a document on a shared network printer. Distributed computing uses computing resources across a network to accomplish tasks.
May be insecure
A computer network may be used by computer hackers to deploy computer viruses or computer worms on devices connected to the network, or to prevent these devices from normally accessing the network (denial of service).
May interfere with other technologies
Power line communication strongly disturbs certain forms of radio communication, e.g., amateur radio. It may also interfere with last mile access technologies such as ADSL and VDSL.
May be difficult to set up
A complex computer network may be difficult to set up. It may also be very costly to set up an effective computer network in a large organization or company.
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