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What is a network?

Advantages and disadvantages of networks


  • Sharing devices such as printers saves money.
  • Site (software [software: a general term used to describe an application or a program ]) licences are likely to be cheaper than buying several standalone licences.
  • Files can easily be shared between users.
  • Network [network: a group of interconnected computers ] users can communicate by email [email: electronic mail - a message written or typed on a computer and sent electronically rather than by post ] and instant messenger [instant messenger: an application that allows users to send instant messages (text) to one another ].
  • Security is good - users cannot see other users' files unlike on stand-alone machines.
  • Data [data: information without context, eg a list of students with numbers beside their names is data, when it's made clear that those numbers represent their placing in a 100 metre race, the data becomes information ] is easy to backup [backup: to copy data onto a separate storage device in case the original device should fail, be damaged or the data stored on it get corrupted ] as all the data is stored on the file server [file server: a networked computer that provides large amounts of shared storage, it can be accessed by workstations on the same network ].


  • Purchasing the network cabling and file servers can be expensive.
  • Managing a large network is complicated, requires training and a network manager usually needs to be employed.
  • If the file server breaks down the files on the file server become inaccessible. Email might still work if it is on a separate server. The computers can still be used but are isolated.
  • Virusesvirus: ultramicroscopic non-cellular organism that replicates itself inside the cells of living hosts can spread to other computers throughout a computer network.
  • There is a danger of hacking [hacking: to gain unauthorised access to a computer ], particularly with wide area networks. Security procedures are needed to prevent such abuse, eg a firewall [firewall: an application that prevents unauthorised connections to and from the Internet ].

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