Jan 23, 2019

What Is Networking?

Computer networking refers to a group of computers connected to each other to share resources. You can set up a network at home, work, or across telecommunications devices. Three common types of networks are LAN (Local Area Network), WAN (Wide Area Network), and WLAN/WWAN (Wireless Local Area Network/Wireless Wide Area Network).

  • A LAN serves a small group of people located close to each other, as in the same building.
  • A WAN connects LANs together over a larger geographical area.
  • WLAN/WWAN make connections over radio transceivers instead of through wires.

Other types of networks include:

  • Personal Area Network (PAN) – connection of your own laptop, phones, printers, tablets, etc.
  • Campus Area Network (CAN) – set up at colleges, universities, and K-12 school districts
  • Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) – spans across a city
  • Storage-Area Network (SAN) – access to high-speed storage areas not part of the LAN or WAN
  • Passive Opticla Local Area Network (POLAN) – uses POLAN technology with optical fibers and splitters as opposed to switch-based Ethernet LANs
  • Enterprise Private Network (EPN) – a business securely shares information across locations
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) – allows for remote access to a private network

How Is Networking Helpful?

Here are the aspects of networking that make it so useful:

Sharing Information

When computers are connected through a network, users can share documents, databases, and other information that is commonly available within the network. E-mail is another example of how employees communicate seamlessly with each other as well as outside the network.

Sharing Resources

Networking allows the sharing of peripherals such as printers, cameras, speakers, and fax machines. This saves money from having to purchase multiple pieces of equipment and makes these peripherals conveniently accessible from each person's desktop.


Networking allows for each user to access equipment with larger storage capacity to avoid running out of space on each personal computer.


Some applications require a lot of space, such as those for gaming and processing Big Data. Loading these applications on a larger server gives everyone on the network access to them without lag time or depleting local storage.

Managing Software

Storing software on servers saves money from having to load multiple versions of the software on each computer. This also solves local storage issues.

Backing Up Data

Back-up data and information are kept safe and accessible on a centralized server.

Learn More With Udacity's Computer Networking Course

Udacity's Computer Networking Course takes your knowledge of networking to the next level. It's a free, three-month course designed to cover more advanced topics such as Software-Defined Networking, Content Distribution, and Data Center Networking. You might also be interested in learning how networking affects smartphones and tablets with other courses from Udacity like the free Android Basics course.