A computer network consists of different types of hardware working through various network protocols. Some of these types of hardware are easy to install and maintain, while others are very complex and require expertise when it comes to installation and maintenance. Take a look at some of the types of new or used networking hardware used in various networking scenarios.
Modem The term "modem" is a short term for modulator-demodulator. It allows transmission and conversion of data between digital form as in computers and analog form as in telephone lines. To enable sharing of internet connection, the modem must be connected with a router. Modems are can be provided by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or purchased from network hardware vendors.
Router If modems act as converters, routers act as gateways. A router is used to course data packets to appropriate computers and manage traffic among the computers connected to the network. It can implement security protocols, assign static or dynamic IP addresses and function in both wireless and wired internet connection. Routers can either be small-use routers used in homes or enterprise routers used in large corporations.
Network Interface Card Installed in PCs and laptops, a network interface card or NIC allows the motherboard of a computer to access the LAN. A very common form of NIC is the Ethernet card that allows people to access broadband Internet via cable connection. Other forms of NIC include wireless network interface cards, fiber optic network interface cards, and Token Ring network interface cards. These cards are classified depending on their speed and connection to the computer.
Switches This type of networking hardware can be easily identified by its multiple ports. It can be used to redirect traffic between computers in a local network as it copies data packets from one port to another using the MAC address of the devices connected to it. Switches can be thought of as descendants of hubs which are simpler and less intelligent. It is also one of the common used networking hardware sold by authorized dealers.
Cables and Wires Although everything can be wireless nowdays, there must be at least 2-3 wired connections in a computer network. A common way to establish wired connections is to use category 5 or CAT5 cables such as Ethernet cables that connect routers to the modem. Cables and wires can also be purchased as used networking hardware at any computer hardware store.