Quick Glossary of Network Terms

By vljuson • August 10th, 2009

Network – Group of computers connected together in a way that lets information be exchanged between the computers.

Local Area Network (LAN) – Network of computers in the same physical location, usually within a building or campus.

Wide Area Network (WAN) – Used when the computers in the network are far apart, as in different cities.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) – Provides a direct connection between the LAN or WAN to the World Wide Web.

Internet Protocol (IP) Address – IP assigns a unique identifier to all computers and other devices connected to the Internet.

Node – Anything connected to the network. Although a node is often a computer, it can also be a printer or an IP Camera.

Segment – Any part of a network that is separated by a hub, switch, bridge or router from another part of the network.

Hub – Connection point for devices in a network. Acts like a traffic cop regulating the flow of cars (or packets of information).

Switch – Like a cloverleaf intersection at the hub; each car takes an entrance ramp to where they want to go without stopping or slowing down.

Bridge – Connects two LANs or two segments of the same LAN using the same protocol, such as Ethernet or Token-Ring.

Router – forwards data packets along networks. They connect at least two networks, usually LANs, WANs or a LAN and its ISP’s network.

Network Interface Card (NIC) – Every computer and most other devices, including IP Cameras, are connected to the network through an NIC. Often, this is an Ethernet card; you’ll find the slot on the back of your computer.

Media Access Control (MAC) Address – Physical address of any device on the network. It identifies the company that made the NIC as well as the serial number of the specific NIC.

 

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