Basic Benefits of Networking

If the truth be told, computer networks are a pain to set up. Because the benefits of having a network make the difficulty of setting one up worthwhile. You don’t have to be a Ph.D. to understand the benefits of networking. Networks are all about sharing. Specifically, networks are about sharing three things: information, resources, and applications.

  • Sharing information: Networks allow users to share information in several different ways. The most common way of sharing information is to share individual files. For example, two or more people can work together on a single spreadsheet file or word-processing document. In most networks, a large hard drive on a central server computer is set up as a common storage area where users can store files to be shared.

    In addition to sharing files, networks allow users to communicate with each other in various ways. For example, messaging applications let network users exchange messages with each other using an e-mail application such as Microsoft Outlook. Users can also hold online meetings over the network. In fact, with inexpensive video cameras and the right software, users can hold videoconferences over the network.

  • Sharing resources: Certain computer resources, such as printers or hard drives, can be set up so that network users can share them. Sharing these resources can result in significant cost savings. For example, it’s cheaper to buy a single high-speed printer with advanced features that can be shared by an entire workgroup than it is to buy separate printers for each user in the group.

    Hard drives can also be shared resources. In fact, providing users with access to a shared hard drive is the most common method of sharing files on a network. A computer whose main purpose in life is to host shared hard drives is called a file server.

    In actual practice, entire hard drives aren’t usually shared. Instead, individual folders on a networked hard drive are shared. This way, the network administrator can allow different network users to have access to different shared folders. For example, a company may set up shared folders for its sales department and accounting department. Then, sales personnel can access the sales department’s folder, and accounting personnel can access the accounting department’s folder.

    You can share other resources on a network. For example, a network can be used to share an Internet connection. In the early days of the Internet, it was common for each user who required access to the Internet to have his or her own modem connection. Nowadays, it’s more common for the network to provide a shared, high-speed Internet connection that everyone on the network can access.

  • Sharing applications: One of the most common reasons for networking in many businesses is so that several users can work together on a single business application. For example, an accounting department may have accounting software that can be used from several computers at the same time. Or a sales-processing department may have an order-entry application that runs on several computers to handle a large volume of orders.