There are many different types of devices used in computer networks. In this article, we cover the most basic and common network components that provide a robust IT environment for employees.
Basic networking components covered in this article are routers, network cables, switches, hubs, wireless access points, servers and network interface cards. IT services providers in Ottawa can assist you in selecting specific brands and models and if you need help with setting up your networks Contact us now for a free consultation.
Routers are devices on the network which is responsible for forwarding data from one device to another. This data is sent in packets (basic units of information) from one device to another. The router reads the network information on the packets to determine the destination it should be routed to.
Routers are vital in business as they connect your employees to the internet and to your local network where most of your vital business services will take place. Without routers, most businesses wouldn’t be able to operate.
Routers can be a security risk if they are not set up correctly but when configured in the right way they can offer your business protection against outside threats. Routers can contain built-in firewalls and filtering that protects your network against malicious code.
A router also allows businesses to connect hard drives for shared storage and connect their printers so that the entire office can use the same printers with ease.
There are many different types of routers that businesses can use. We have listed some of the most common below.
For most small businesses a core router isn’t going to be needed but it may be a solution for you if you run an enterprise-level company. A core router sits in the centre of a computer network and is the fastest, most expensive class of router that is available.
A core router sits at the centre of a large network and is capable of processing millions of packets every second. A core router sends and receives packets from lower-class routers such as edge routers.
For most companies, a core router isn’t going to be needed or isn’t affordable as one core router can cost the same as a new sports car, (Cisco has a core router that retails at $450,000).
Typical businesses that use core routers would be Universities, Hospitals, ISPs and Cloud Providers.
As the name suggests, edge routers sit on the edge of a network and are referred to as gateway routers. Edge routers are made to connect and distribute data to the end-user.
Your edge router will sit at the edge of your network and because of this, it is open to security vulnerabilities if it isn’t set up correctly. If you need help with the security of your network we can help.
Wireless routers are the most common in home networks but businesses can still use them. If your ISP has offered you a wireless router for your small business you may want to opt for a more secure and better-performing business router.
Small businesses can find it hard to decide how to set up their network and the components within it and if you are finding it hard to choose your network components please get in touch with Firewall Technical for all of your IT Support needs.
A network switch is a networking device that connects devices on the network allowing for data to be transferred within the network. Switches operate in the data link layer and connect devices in a network, deciding where to send, receive or forward packets in the network.
Many computers can be plugged into switches and when a data packet arrives at the port of a switch it examines the end address of the packet and sends it there.
A switch in a network can support one to one connections, one to many connections and one to all, this is known as unicast, multicast and broadcast communications.
Switches come in unmanaged, managed, LAN and PoE formats.
Home networks and very small businesses often used unmanaged switches as they are simple to use and are affordable. All you need to do is buy one and plug your devices into it.
Managed switches are more expensive but offer better performance than an unmanaged switch along with improved security. If you are running a business that relies on technology you may want to consider using a managed switch.
LAN switches are used to create a local area network while PoE or Power over Ethernet switches can send data while running power transmission through the same cable. If you aren’t sure what switch is best for your network or if you need any of the network components listed in this post please contact us and we can help you with your network configuration.
A network hub is another networking device that connects multiple peripherals on a network making them act as a single segment, however, other than a switch or router; a hub broadcast data across each connection instead of routing it to a specific device.
Businesses may consider a hub over a switch because of their affordability but having data sent across every connection rather than to a specific location is a security risk.
Hubs can also cause bottlenecks in your network as they have no routing tables. Generally, switches are not much more expensive than hubs these days and having a switch set up can create a more secure and intelligent network.
There are two different types of hubs, a passive hub and an active hub. A passive hub relays a signal from a network but doesn’t boost it while an active hub can clean and improve a signal “boosting” it within your network.
Wireless access points
A Wireless Access Point is simply a device that allows for wireless connections. The access point acts as a router by routing data from one device to another by using wireless frequencies. The most common protocol used is IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) which underpins wireless networking applications.
An access point is used to create a network within your business and it connects itself to one of the network components mentioned above such as a hub, switch or router. One reason you may use an access point is to provide a Wi-Fi signal in one area of your business where you don’t have a router in range.
An example of the above could be to add a wireless access point to your reception area or your canteen so guests of your business can have Wi-Fi access while in your business.
Networking cables are used to physically connect the networking device to another.
Different types of cables may be used depending on the devices being connected, the network topology and the size of the network. For instance, in a small office network, an Ethernet cable is the primary network cable used to connect to devices over a short distance whereas fibre optic cables are preferred for transmitting data over a larger distance such as the connection from the internet service provider to the client.
Selecting the right networking cables for your business can have huge effects on your business. An enterprise company may use the latest technologies and would need a different set up from a small business.
When selecting cabling for your network you may also come across Coaxial, Shielded twisted pair and unshielded twisted pair. If you are not sure what networking cables you need for your network at Firewall Technical, we can help you with your network support.
A network server is the main computer on the network. This computer is commonly known as the repository of data and programs which exists on the network.
The server provides functionality (services) for all other devices on the network and these devices are known as “clients”.
IT companies in Ottawa typically use network monitoring software to monitor, secure, update and maintain the network.
A benefit of using a network server is that it enables better sharing and collaboration too as multiple users can work on a file at the same time. A network server is also useful if you allow staff to take their laptops home with them, in this case, if a staff member lost their laptop they would lose all of their work but if all of their work was backed up previously on the network server then this would provide protection against it.
As with all network components, a network server can be open to cyber-attacks and you will want to minimise the risk to your data by safeguarding it against malware, ransomware, viruses and malicious users.
Network Interface Cards (NIC)
For a device to be able to connect to a network, it requires a network interface card (NIC). The NIC, also known as a network adapter, enables the device to send and receive data via the network either through the use of an Ethernet cable or Wireless Connection.
Without a NIC installed a device will not be able to connect to a network.
Basic Network Components Conclusion
Above are some of the basic network components that you are going to need to configure your home or business network. Getting the right network components and configuring them correctly is very important if you want to get the best performance out of your network both in terms of speed and security.
If you are looking to set up a network for your business and don’t know where to start or would like a quote get in touch with us for a free consultation.