Computer networks can have different designs, with the two basic forms being client/server and peer-to-peer networks. Client/server networks have centralized servers for storage, which are accessed by client computers and devices. Peer-to-peer networks tend to have devices that support the same functions. They are more common in homes, while client/server networks are more likely to be used by businesses.
Types of Network Connections
There are also different types of network connections that concern how elements in a network are connected to each other. Topologies are used to connect computers, with a collapsed ring being the most common type due to the Ethernet supporting the internet, local area networks and wide area networks.
A central node connects a cable to each computer in the network in a star topology. Each computer in the network has an independent connection to the center of the network, and one connection breaking won't affect the rest of the network. However, one downside is that many cables are required to form this kind of network.
In a bus topology network connection, one cable connects the computer. The information for the last node on the network has to run through each connected computer. There is less cabling required, but if the cable breaks it means that none of the computers can reach the network.
A ring topology is similar to a bus topology. It uses a single cable with the end nodes connected to each other so the signal can circle through the network to find its recipient. The signal will try several times to find its destination even when the network node is not working properly. A collapsed ring has a central node which is a hub, router or switch. The device has an internal ring topology and has places for cable to plug in. Every computer in the network has its own cable to plug into the device. In an office, this probably means having a cabling closet, where all computers are connected to the closet and the switch.
Network protocols are the languages that computer devices use to communicate. The protocols that computer networks support offer another way to define and group them. Networks can have more than one protocol and each can support different applications. Protocols that are often used include TCP/IP, which is most common on the internet and in home networks.