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Computer network, two or more computers that are linked with one one more for the purpose of connecting data electronically. Besides physically connecting computer and communication devices, a network system serves the important duty of developing a cohesive style that permits a selection of equipment types to transfer details in a near-seamless fashion. Two famous architectures space ISO open Systems Interconnection (OSI) and also IBM’s solution Network design (SNA).

Two basic network types are local-area networks (LANs) and wide-area networks (WANs). LANs affix computers and also peripheral gadgets in a restricted physical area, such together a business office, laboratory, or college campus, by method of links (wires, Ethernet cables, fibre optics, Wi-Fi) that transmit data rapidly. A typical LAN is composed of two or more personal computers, printers, and high-capacity disk-storage gadgets called file servers, which allow each computer system on the network to accessibility a common set of files. LAN operating system software, i beg your pardon interprets input and also instructs networked devices, allows users to communicate with each other; share the printers and also storage equipment; and also simultaneously access centrally located processors, data, or program (instruction sets). LAN users may also accessibility other LANs or tap right into WANs. LANs with comparable architectures are connected by “bridges,” which action as transport points. LANs with different architectures are connected by “gateways,” which convert data together it passes between systems.


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WANs affix computers and smaller networks to bigger networks end greater geographic areas, including various continents. Lock may attach the computer systems by way of cables, optical fibres, or satellites, yet their individuals commonly accessibility the networks via a modem (a device that enables computers to interact over telephone lines). The largest WAN is the Internet, a arsenal of networks and gateways linking billions of computer users top top every continent.

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This article was most recently revised and also updated through Erik Gregersen, senior Editor.