Networking can seem daunting for beginners. With all of the technical jargon, it can be challenging to understand where to start. But networking doesn’t have to be complicated. In this article, we’ll cover some basic networking concepts that every beginner should know.
What is networking?
Networking is the act of connecting two or more devices together, allowing them to share resources and communicate with each other. Whether it’s your laptop accessing the internet through your Wi-Fi or your phone connecting to a Bluetooth speaker, networking happens all around us, and it’s an essential part of the modern world.
Types of Networks
There are two main types of networks: LANs (Local Area Networks) and WANs (Wide Area Networks). A LAN typically covers a small area, like a home, office, or campus. LANs usually rely on Ethernet cables or Wi-Fi to connect devices. On the other hand, WANs cover a larger geographic area, like multiple buildings or even different countries, and typically rely on the internet for connectivity.
Every device that is connected to a network has an IP (Internet Protocol) address, which is a unique identifier assigned to it. You can think of an IP address like a phone number; it’s what devices use to communicate with each other across networks. IPv4 addresses (the most common type) look like four sets of numbers separated by dots, such as 192.168.0.1.
Subnets & Subnet Masks
A subnet is a smaller network that is part of a larger network. You can think of it like a neighborhood within a city. A subnet mask is a value that determines which part of an IP address belongs to the subnet and which part belongs to the larger network. By configuring subnet masks on a network, you can manage and segment network traffic more effectively.
Routers & Switches
Routers and switches are two essential pieces of networking hardware. A router is a device that connects multiple networks together, like your home Wi-Fi and the internet. When you connect to a website on the internet, your computer sends data through your router, which directs it to the website’s server. Switches, on the other hand, connect devices within a network, allowing them to communicate with each other. Switches are responsible for directing data between devices within a network.