As computer technology advances at an ever-increasing rate, it can be easy for people who do not work with technology on a daily basis to get left behind when it comes to terminology and language. For instance, many people would not be able to explain the difference between a computer system and a computer network. There is, however, several differences between these two terms.
A computer system is a "complete" computer. A computer system is a computer that has all the necessary hardware and software needed to make it function as a stand-alone unit. This includes the operating system, keyboard, monitor and other necessary bits and pieces.
A computer network, on the other hand, is a collection of two or more computers or resources linked together for the purpose of information sharing. Networks can consist of computers linked together, as well as computers linked to printers, routers and other pieces of network equipment.
There are many overlaps in the technology used in a computer system and in a computer network. For instance, computer networks may be completely wireless, using Bluetooth technology to allow all the parts of the network to communicate with each other. A computer system may also make use of this wireless technology, such as with wireless keyboards or mice.
Types of Networks
Networks come in a variety of types, defined by their size. A local area network (LAN) covers a small area and is often made up of a relatively small amount of devices. A LAN could connect all the technology in a single building, for instance. A metropolitan area network (MAN) is much larger. This type of network connects two or more LANs together, but it does not stretch larger than a city. College campuses often have MANs. The last category is a wide area network (WAN). A WAN is used to connect smaller LANs across city, state and even national borders. Some multinational corporations use WANs to keep all their employees on the same page.
Systems and Networks
A computer system is inherently part of a computer network. How efficient a particular unit (computer system) is can affect just how well a computer network operates. Often, the easiest way to increase the efficiency or power of a computer network is by improving the computer systems that act as the network's components.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Blake Patterson
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