The term 'hub' is all-too-often used to
refer to any piece of equipment that connects PCs together, but technically
this type of device simply passes on (repeats) all the information it receives,
so that all devices connected to its ports receive that information.
Internet Protocol is the network protocol
used on the Internet together with the Transport Control Protocol (TCP).
An ISP (Internet Service Provider) is a
company that supplies Internet connectivity to customers. So that's the likes
of Virgin, BT, 02, and such like.
A local area network (LAN) supplies
networking capability to a group of computers in reasonably close proximity to
one other, such as in a home or office block.
Mbps Or Mbit/s
Megabits per second. A measurement of how
fast information is transmitted on a computer network. This is not to be
confused with megabytes or kilobytes per second, which is what download speeds
are normally measured in. One megabyte per second is equivalent to eight
megabits per second. It's a cunning measurement designed to make speeds sound a
bit quicker than they actually are, in all honesty.
Access Control technology and the interception of vehicles' MAC
Media Access Control (MAC) technology
provides unique identification and access control for network adapters and
hardware on a network.
Short for MODulator dEModulator, a modem -
as defined by its current contemporary meaning - is a device that establishes
Internet connectivity to a computer or router.
It may sound obvious, but a network is a
series of computers or devices linked together by cables or over wireless
technology. Normally in a home setting a network is facilitated by a single
central router or switch, although point-to-point or 'ad hoc' networks can also
be set up.
Network Adapter / NIC
network card (also called network adapter, network interface card
A network adapter interfaces a computer to
a network. Most modern PCs have network cards built into the motherboard
itself, but discrete cards still exist, even if they are quite rare now. They
can still be useful for older machines, of course.
NAS stands for 'Network Attached Storage'.
A NAS device is, at heart, a hard disk drive (or collection of hard disk
drives) that's linked to your computers via the network, rather than being
plugged into your computer directly. The advantage is your computers can share
the data stored on it. It means that there's a communal space to store files,
that isn't dependant on any individual computer being switched on. Sadly, the
price of NAS drives has increased in recent times, along with the general price
rise for hard drives. Hopefully, said prices will start to drop again as we
near the end of the summer.
QoS stands for 'Quality of Service', and it
can be a really useful feature in a particularly busy home network. It is a
feature found in some modern routers that allow you to prioritise certain types
of traffic so that your streaming of videos is not adversely affected by low
priority services such as peer-to-peer file sharing.
Part of the TCP/IP networking protocol,
ports allow software applications to share hardware resources without
interfering with each other.
Technically, a router is a device that
joins multiple wired or wireless networks together. In home networking,
however, you might be best thinking of it as a device that distributes an
Internet connection across multiple devices. This then allows them all to speak
to one another.
A network server is basically a computer,
albeit one that's designed to process requests and deliver data to other
(client) computers over a local network or the Internet. Servers do a lot of
the donkey work, as you might expect.
Service Set Identifier - the publically
visible name given to a wireless network. This might be something like
FREDSNETWORK or OVERPRICEDCOFFEESHOP. Or whatever you happen to call yours, of
Unlike hubs, network switches are capable
of inspecting data as it is received, determining the source and destination
device of each 'packet', and forwarding it appropriately. They are therefore
more expensive than hubs, but that's sometimes a welcome price to pay for the
work that they do.
You come across options like these when
looking to keep your network protected. WEP and WPA stand for 'wired equivalent
privacy' and 'Wi-fi Protected Access', and are two security systems used to
prevent unwanted connections to your wireless network.
All modern routers use the latter which is
more secure (the former is notoriously quite easy to crack now). Within these
individual standards are other subtypes such as WPA2, which further improves
security but require hardware support. By sticking to a recently released
product you virtually guarantee compatibility with all current security
standards, so that's generally the safest approach to take.
WDS or 'Wireless Distribution Service'
allows you to extend the range of your wireless router by adding additional
access points or routers to the network.
A common name for wireless networking
Don't forget to check out our Wireless
Networking Essentials piece this issue too, for the definitions of popular
wireless hardware devices. Hopefully, though, that little lot has cleared up a