A network is simply two or more computer systems connected together to allow them to communicate and share information.

Networks allow us to:

  • Send and receive emails (communication)
  • Share peripherals like printers
  • Work simultaneously on tasks and share files
  • Have a roaming profile, meaning you can use almost any machine on the network

There are some disadvantages, such as:

  • Hardware, including servers like File and Web servers are expensive
  • Specialist staff (like a Network Manager) may be required to look after the network
  • If any of the hardware fails, the network may not function properly
  • A greater risk from viruses

The advantages and disadvantages of using networks.

Any machine which is not part of a network is known as a Stand Alone Machine. This may mean that it doesn't have a Network Interface Card (NIC), but often means that the machine is simply not required to be connected to a network.