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2012-05-10

A+: Networking

A network is a group of computers, peripherals, and software that are connected to each other and can be used together. Special software and hardware are required to make networks work.

Two or more computers connected together in the same office are considered a LAN (local area network). LANs in different cities can be connected to each other by a WAN (wide area network). The Internet represents the world’s largest network, connecting both standalone computers and computers on LAN and WAN networks all over the world.

At one time, it was necessary to use a network operating system (NOS) such as Novell NetWare to enable networking. However, current operating systems, including Windows, include the components needed for networking.

Windows Vista, XP, and Windows 2000 include the following NOS features, enabling systems running these operating systems to be used either as network clients or as peer network servers:
Client software— Enables systems to connect with other networks. Windows XP/2000 can connect to Windows and Novell NetWare networks, among others, and Windows Vista connects to Windows networks only by default.
Network protocols— Windows XP/2000 can utilize TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, and NetBEUI. Windows Vista uses TCP/IPv4 and TCP/IPv6 by default.
File and print sharing— Enables Windows systems to act as peer servers for Windows and Novell NetWare networks. 
Services— Enables specialized network services, such as shared printers, network backup, and more. 
As the network features found in Windows suggest, there are two major network models:
1. Client/server
2. Peer-to-peer
It’s important to understand the differences between them as you work with networks.

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