Networks

Networks

In this month’s blog, we take a quick look at networks and the internet. These are critical components of everyday life in both business and for a private individual.

This month’s Wise Words are:

Hard disk drive

Hard disk drives (HDDs) are used for storing masses of data in your system. They’re mechanical, and thus slower than SSDs, but have the benefit of coming in much larger capacities. They have a spinning disk inside a case which stores the data and a needle that moves across the disk to find the information it needs a bit like a vinyl record player except the needle can jump in milliseconds to any section of the disk at any time to find data.

Solid state drives

The new solid-state drives work completely differently. They use a simple memory chip flash memory, circuitry which has no moving parts and near-instant access times. This makes the component much less likely to fail.

Cloud

The ‘cloud’ is the remote server or network of servers you connect with over the internet when using any number of services, including your email or social media sites. Free and paid services allow you to work or store data ‘in the cloud’ instead of on your personal computer.

RAM (Random Access Memory)

RAM is the short term memory of a computer, it holds information that a computer uses to complete processes and calculations. The more RAM your computer has the faster it will operate. Unlike the hard disk drive (HDD) memory or the solid state drive (SSD), RAM is used for a process to be completed and is temporary.

Once the process is completed the data is permanently deleted whereas, the data on a HDD or SSD is permanently stored and can be accessed again and again. RAM is also different to a cache in that you cannot use the data stored in the RAM because it is for the computer to use and not accessible to the user. Whereas a cache is a storage area for recently used data (read the cache description).

What is a Network?

A network consists of several computers linked together to allow the sharing of resources. There are two main types of network, a LAN (local area network and a WAN (wide area network)

A LAN is a network of computers over a relatively small area i.e. an office or a school campus. A LAN is most likely to be used for sharing files between employees or for the shared use of hardware such as printers and scanners.

A WAN is a network of computers over a much larger area i.e. the internet is a WAN. These networks such as the internet, are a collection of tens of thousands of networks that connect tens of billions of devices.

Connection speeds

The bandwidth of these two types of network is different, as LAN’s have higher bandwidth than WAN’s.

This is mainly due to the distance the data needs to travel as well as restrictions in place by ISP’s (internet service providers such as BT or Sky).

Speeds on networks however also depend on the quality of the equipment used to make the connections. As a general rule physical cable connections are the fastest most stable way of connecting networks together. Think of it as the difference between a landline and a mobile phone, the landline will always have a good quality connection. Whereas, with a mobile, the connection depends on the signal strength and is patchy although more convenient.

Wired vs Wireless

Wi-Fi connections are generally used where physical cables are not an option due to distance, for example between buildings that are far apart. Mobility needs are another consideration for example a laptop or a phone may not stay in the same place all the time whereas, a desktop pc is much more likely to be left in the same place.

Internet

It’s important to realize that the Internet is a global network of physical cables, which can include copper telephone wires, TV cables, and fibre optic cables. Even wireless connections like Wi-Fi and 3G/4G rely on these physical cables to access the Internet.

When you visit a website, your computer sends a request over these wires to a server. A server is where websites are stored, and it works a lot like your computer’s hard drive. Once the request arrives, the server retrieves the website and sends the correct data back to your computer.

You will need broadband from an ISP to access the internet as well as some other bits of hardware to get the connection to the internet set up.

If you would like help setting up a network for your business to share files, printers etc. if you are having connectivity issues or you know someone who is, just call us on 01666 840531 or email us at office@silverchart.co.uk and our friendly team will get you sorted!

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