Computer Science LearnITWithMrC ⛯ Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 GCSE
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What do I need to Learn?

I need to learn how to define what a computer network is
I need to learn how to discuss the benefits and risks of computer networks

Key Terms

Communication File sharing Hardware sharing Voice over IP (VoIP) FTP (File Transfer Protocol) file server hot desking User profiles Network Server stand-alone machines Node

Advantages of computer networks:

  • A network allows users to share software stored in a main system.
  • Files can easily be shared between users over a network.
  • Network users can communicate via email, instant messenger, and VoIP.
  • Within networks, it is much more straightforward to backup data as it is all stored on the file server.
  • Networks allow data to be transmitted to remote areas that are connected within local areas.
  • Networking computers allows users to share common peripheral resources such as printers, fax machines, etc. therefore saving money.

Disadvantages of computer networks:

  • Purchasing cabling to construct a network as well as the file servers can be costly.
  • The management of a large network is complicated, which requires training, and a specialist network manager usually needs to be employed.
  • In the event of a file server breaking down the files contained on the server become inaccessible, although email might still work if it is stored on a separate email server. The computers can still be used but are isolated.
  • If a virus gets into the system through a network it can easily spread to other computers.
  • There is a risk of hacking, particularly with wide area networks. Stringent security measures are required to prevent such abuse, such as a firewall.

Wireless networks

Advantages of wireless networks:

  • The primary benefit of a wireless network is the freedom from cables.
  • It is also very convenient. The wireless nature of Wi-Fi networks allows users to access network resources from almost any convenient location.
  • With the growth of public wireless networks, users can also access the internet outside their normal work or home environment.
  • The initial setup of an infrastructure-based wireless network is relatively low cost as it requires no expensive cabling and a small network needs just a single access point.
  • Wireless networks are also easily expanded.

Disadvantages and risks of wireless networks:

  • Any time data is sent wirelessly, there is a chance that it can be intercepted.
  • The security used to encrypt the information determines how easy or hard it is to intercept the data.
  • A WiFi range, whilst sufficient for a typical home, can be insufficient in a larger building.
  • The speed on most wireless networks is much slower than on the slowest common wired networks. In some situations where speed is essential a user may need a wired network.