Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding networks and Internet access, part of Computer Literacy for Mac.
- In the context of discussing computers, a network is basically two or more computers or peripheral devices such as printers or scanners connected to and communicating with each other. Technically, one computer connecting to another computer is considered a very basic network. More often, though, computers and other devices on the network communicate through a device called a router. A router handles and manages all the network traffic which is essentially the data being passed from one device to another and ensures that the right data gets to the right device. You may have heard of other devices called switches or hubs which operate similarly to a router but with a little less sophistication and capabilities.
I'm not gonna get into the specific details here and for simplicity sake I'm gonna refer to the network management device as the router even though I could say hub or switch as well depending on what the device actually is. Now the point of the network is to make it easy for all the computer in your home or office to communicate with one another. This allows you to share files directly with other computers without having to copy the files to a disc or to email them. Network are also operating system agnostic so you can have both Macs and PCs on the same network. A network also allows you to have shared devices like printers and scanners so each person doesn't need to have his or her own.
Another very common purpose of a network is to share a single internet connection between all your computers. Many people these days have high speed broadband Internet services in their homes and need to share that connection with several computers and other Internet enabled devices in their household. Routers generally all have ports to accept a connection from a broadband modem. High speed services such as cable, DSL and fiber optics are considered broadband. It's important to understand that just connecting to a network doesn't mean that you're connected to the internet. Connecting to a network means your connected to the other devices on the network.
This is known as your local area network or LAN. For Internet service to be available to all the computers on your LAN, the Internet modem must also be connected to the router. The Internet connection is known as the wide area network or WAN. Basically, the entire Internet outside your LAN is considered the WAN. Incidentally, more often than not these days, the modem provided by your Internet service provider is also a router negating the need to have a separate router. Now there are two main ways for your devices to connect to a network, wired connections and wireless connections.
Wired connections involve cables that look this commonly called Ethernet connections. The advantage of a wired connection is that it requires very little setup or configuration. For the most part, you just plug one end of the cable into your router, plug the other end into your computer, and you're immediately connected to your network and the Internet. Macs and most PCs are set up by default to work this way. Now wireless connections often called Wi-Fi connections usually involve a little more setup but offer the advantage of freeing your device from cables and allowing you to connect to your network and the Internet from anywhere within range of the wireless signal and that's another important point.
In order to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal, you must have a Wi-Fi enabled router but most Internet service providers today give you routers with Wi-Fi capabilities and you can also purchase Wi-Fi routers inexpensively in any computer store. So, in this chapter, we're gonna look at how to connect both via ethernet and Wi-Fi and we'll also talk more about how to connect to the Internet through your network.
Note: This course was recorded on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. To upgrade to Yosemite before you begin, watch "Installing and running Mac OS X 10.10 for the first time."
- Working with a laptop versus a desktop computer
- Understanding the five traits almost all applications share in Mac OS X
- Printing on a Mac computer
- Setting up a scanner
- Connecting to the Internet
- Sending and receiving email
- Searching the Internet
- Importing and editing images from a digital camera
- Sharing files