Some of the important Networking Devices are:
- NICS (Network Interface Cards or just plain Network Adapters.)
Hubs: These are simple network devices which facilitate communication between two or more computers in a network. These devices are generally used in small networks. Hubs follow Broadcasting to transmit data – which means data sent from one computer through a hub is transmitted through all the ports in the Hub. The image below shows a typical 8 port hub – you can connect 8 computers to it using ethernet cables. Hubs generally come with 4, 8, 16 or even 24 ports.
Switch: It is also a device which allows computers to connect to it using ethernet cables, just like the hub. But a Switch is more intelligent than a hub – it uses Unicast to transmit data. But, unlike the Hub where data is sent out to all the ports, a switch forwards data only to the target computer. This is how it is done – a switch maintains a table called Mac Information Table (MIT) which gets generated as soon as the switch is turned on. This MIT acts like an Index table which contains the Port Number, IP address and MAC Address of all the computers connected to the switch. Using a switch, you can monitor the usage of your network and also control access to different parts of your network. Switches allow much faster data transfers than hubs. The image below shows a typical 24 port switch. A switch might look similar to a hub – but functionally, it is very different and much more advanced, so don’t get confused.
Routers: These are devices that connect two different networks and Routing is nothing but the process of communication between different networks. For example, using a Router, you can connect a Class A Network with a Class C network. A Router can be wired or wireless.
NICs (Network Interface Cards): A NIC is by far, the most important Networking Device which allows your computer to physically connect to a Network. Most computer motherboards today, come with built-in NICs. But you can also buy a NIC which you can fix in one of the PCI slots of your computer’s motherboard.