Components of Computer Network

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A computer network means a group of computers interconnected to each other for communication and sharing resources. This network consists of both hardware and software. The media which is used to develop networks can be guided or unguided media.

Here guided means connected with the help of hardware or physical devices, like cables or ribbons. Unguided means wireless like WIFI.

The configuration of both hardware and software decides the number of components used. Also, the network type, length, size and range effects the number.

Components of computer are classified into two parts, hardware and software components.

Hardware Components

1. Network Interface Card

  • NIC is a short form of Network Interface Card.
  • It is placed on the motherboard with a LAN connecting port.
  • It is used to connect a computer to the internet.
  • Once the chip is placed on the motherboard the MAC address is stored in the PROM (Programmable read-only memory) of the motherboard.
  • Mainly we can divide these NIC into two types as given below:
    1. Wired NIC
    2. Wireless NIC

2. Server or Host

  • Logically A server is a specific type of software or computer which provides services to another computer (client).
  • Practically a server is a computer itself.
  • The computer from which we request the data is called the server.
  • Severs are specially designed with very advance and high configurations including the latest technology.
  • The servers have very advanced processors, huge and superfast primary and secondary memory, and communication channels and modes.
  • Servers have a special network operating system installed in them to manage and control all over the network.
  • A single network may have multiple servers, depending on the size of the network.
  • A single Server can be a group of multiple small servers.

3. Client

  • Clients are those computers that send requests and receive services or data from the servers.
  • In a network, a single client could be joined to multiple servers.
  • In a network, at any moment a single server may have connections with multiple clients.
  • The connection established between client and server is volatile, which means when we want, we can break or terminate the connection. Just like manually terminating the connection, shutting down the client computer, electricity cut, etc.

4. Storage Device

  • These are like just other storage devices like hard disks or SSD but technically the network storage devices are far more advanced.
  • The storage capacity is huge and memory allocation techniques are based on highly advanced and significant algorithms.
  • These storage devices are connected and controlled by servers.
  • It is used to just store the data and nothing else.
  • Cloud computing is possible due to these storage devices.

5. Peer

  • A Peer is a computer that can act as a server or client itself.
  • This means if we are connected to a network with our system then for us our system is a client but for other users, our computer can act as a server if those users access our computer for data or services.
  • This is called peer-to-peer communication or peer-to-peer connectivity or network.
  • The transmission speed is very high in this network.
  • Peer also works as a transmission path or router.

6. Transmission Media

  • Transmission media are the connectivity or communication channels.
  • It is a physical connection or an interface between the server and the client.
  • These are used to connect the devices in a network through which data is transferred from one device to another.
  • One can find this below the physical layer and are controlled by the physical layer in the transmission model.
  • Mainly we can divide these into two types as given below:

Guided Transmission Medium

  • It stands for wired medium or media.
  • It is a physical medium that means we can touch these mediums.
  • Different types of cables and wires are used for connecting or transmitting data between devices.
  • The most popular guided media are as given below:
    1. Twisted Pair Cable
    2. Coaxial Cable
    3. Fibre Optics
    4. Power Cables

Unguided Transmission Media

  • It is also called wireless media.
  • Electromagnetic waves are used to transmit data.
  • At low frequency these waves can cross obstacles like walls or trees, even metal.
  • At high frequency these waves can’t cross obstacles, instead, they bounce back or sometimes are reflected.
  • No physical cable is required.
  • The most popular unguided media are as given below:
    1. Radio transmission
    2. Microwave transmission
    3. Infrared transmission
    4. Light transmission

7. Connecting Devices

These are special types of hardware that are used to connect devices or networks. Following are the devices:


  • As the name implies these are used to show the route to the destination.
  • A router is used to connect a LAN with an internet connection.
  • It is used to receive, analyze and forward the incoming data and signals to another network.
  • It calculates and finds out the best path from the available options for the transmission of the data.


  • A Hub is a distribution hardware device that is used to divide the network connection across multiple devices. Means one to many connections.
  • When we request any information from the network, that request first goes to Hub connected.
  • Then Hub broadcast the request to the entire network.
  • All the computers connected to the network check the requested information or data belongs to them or not. If yes then send the data or if not, then the request will be terminated.


  • A gateway is a transmission protocol converter embedded system (combination of specific task-oriented software and hardware).
  • It is a network node connects two networks with different transmission protocols together to merge them as one. But at the same time both networks are joined as one still exists individual.
  • These have specific entry and exit point.


  • A switch is a device that is used to connect multiple devices in a computer network.
  • The switch provides a direct connection between the source and destination.
  • Switch contains the updated table which decides where the request should be transmitted or not.
  • Switch transmit message to correct destination depending on the physical address received, which is present in the incoming message.


  • A modem is the first device that let our computer connects to the internet.
  • It is a hardware device that establishes a connection to the internet over the existing telephone line.
  • It stands for Modulator/Demodulator.
  • This means it converts the data from digital to an analog signal.
  • A modem is installed externally. We can connect to the modem via cables or WIFI.


  • It is a network device.
  • It connects multiple LANs (local area networks) together to form a larger LAN.
  • The process of creating a large network from small networks is called network bridging.
  • A bridge connects the different components so that they appear as parts of a single network.


  • A repeater is a hardware implemented in computer networks to expand the coverage area of the network.
  • It accepts the signals over the network, analyzes them, and then according to their concurrent condition repair and repropagate a weak or broken signal.

Software Components

1. Networking Operating System

  • It’s a special type of OS that is designed to fulfill all the requirements of a network including its hardware and software.
  • Network Operating System is installed on the server.
  • It controls the overall network and manages all the operations like sharing files, databases, applications, etc in between all the workstations on that network.

2. Protocol Suite

  • A protocol is a set of rules.
  • These models are used by networks.
  • These protocols control and manage all the operations performed in a network.
  • The two popular protocol suites are as given below:           
    1. OSI Model (Open System Interconnections)
    2. TCP / IP Model


A computer network is consisting of multiple hardware devices and software. It is a very complex structure if we want to understand it as a unit, but all the components are equally important in a network. A network should have a high transmission speed and an efficient, error free environment. It’s good to understand all the components so that we can select the required components to design our own network.

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