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Chapter 3 - Networking and Group Computing



Networking is commonly referred to as connecting computers together by cables or wire to share information and hardware resources. These resources include data sharing, printers, large storage disk drives, modems, CD-ROMs, communication equipment, and so on. Being connected on a network is like being connected to the hard drive of many other computers. One can access files on other computers as if they were on their own computer. There are two types of networks – LAN and WAN. A LAN (local area network) is several computers connected together in the same general vicinity, such as an office building. Computers connected together within a city, state or worldwide, but not in the same general vicinity, are referred to as a WAN (Wide Area Network). Computers on a WAN can be connected by modems and communication lines or by satellite. A computer connected to a computer network such as a LAN or WAN is called a node. A WAN can easily connect the computers of a law firm and its branches located in different parts of the city, state, or world.

A LAN has a file server that acts as the central computer for the system, network-operating software, and application programs such as word processing, e-mail and calendars. The network operating system runs on top of the individual PC’s operating system, such as Windows XP or Vista™. The network operating system manages files transfers, control of peripherals and other network tasks. A LAN generally has a network administrator who handles the network and ensures that things are run properly. A PC is connected to the network with a network interface card that fits into a computer’s expansion slot.


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