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A network is a group of computers (often called nodes or hosts) that can share information through their interconnections. A network is made up of the following components:
Computer systems (nodes or hosts) Transmission media--a path for electrical signals between devices Network interfaces--devices that send and receive electrical signals Protocols--rules or standards that describe how hosts communicate and exchange data Despite the costs of implementation and maintenance, networks actually save organizations money by allowing them to:
Consolidate (centralize) data storage Share peripheral devices like printers Increase internal and external communications Increase productivity and collaboration There are several ways to classify networks. The following table lists several ways to describe a network.
Peer-to-Peer In a peer to peer network, the hosts provide and consume network services, and each host has the same operating system. Advantages of peer to peer networks include: Easy implementation Inexpensive Disadvantages of peer to peer networks include: Difficult to expand (not scalable) Difficult to support Lack centralized control No centralized storage
Client/Server In a client/server network, hosts have specific roles. For example, some hosts are assigned server roles which allows them to provide network resources to other hosts. Other hosts are assigned client roles which allows them to consume network resources. Unlike peer to peer networks, hosts in a client/server network have different operating systems. Advantages of client/server networks include: Easily expanded (scalable) Easy support Centralized services Easy to backup Disadvantages of client/server networks include: Server operating systems are expensive Requires extensive advanced planning
Geography and Size Local Area Network (LAN) LANs reside in a small geographic area, like in an office. A series of connected LANs, or a LAN connected across several buildings or offices, is called an internetwork. Wide Area Network (WAN) A WAN is a group of LANs that are geographically isolated but connected to form a large internetwork. When implementing a WAN, remember to provide local access to user resources to prevent a high rate of WAN traffic. Participation Private A LAN or WAN for private individual or group use which may or may not be secure. Examples include home and organization (small business, corporate, institute, government) networks. Intranets and extranets, although related to the Internet, are private networks. Both an extranet and intranet are tightly controlled, and made available only to select organizations. An extranet is made available to the public and an intranet is made available internally. Public A large collection of unrelated computers, with each node on the network having a unique address. The Internet, for example, is a public network. Because computers are unrelated and many companies and individuals share the same communication media, the public network is by nature insecure. Signalling Baseband Baseband signalling allows one signal at a time on the network medium (cabling). Broadband Broadband signalling divides the network medium into multiple channels, allowing several signals to traverse the medium at the same time.