You don’t have to be an IT expert to understand the basics of your business’s computer network. In fact, the more you know about it, the smarter the decisions you will make on how to care for it.
A computer network is a collection of computers and other devices connected together to communicate and share resources. For example, several computers often share the same printer. And shared resources reduce business costs. A small to medium-sized business usually has a variety of devices connected to one another. That may include:
- one or more servers
- desktop computers
- phones (landlines and mobile)
- other specialized industry-related devices
Additionally, there are devices on a network specifically designed to facilitate the connection between devices as well as the connection to the Internet. These devices are called switches, routers, and modems.
What is a Switch?
Technicians use switches to connect computers and other devices within a network. Switches enable communication and data sharing between devices. So, even if your computer workstation is in a different office than another team member’s, you can still communicate with her via computers and send her information. In short, everything in a network links together through switches.
What is a Router?
While switches connect devices within a single network, routers connect multiple switches (and thus multiple networks) together. Technicians connect two or more networks using a router to form a larger network. Metaphorically, each network is a solar system. Multiple solar systems combine to form a galaxy.
What is the difference between a Router and a Modem?
It is easy to confuse a router with a modem. Let’s look at the differences between them. While routers connect multiple switches and their respective networks together, a modem connects your network to the Internet. Modems give you the power to connect with other networks connected to the Internet. The modem connects to your network through your router and switches.
Smaller businesses can use routers that have built-in switches. They play a dual role by connecting your devices to each other and to the modem. And even more convenient, wireless routers enable laptops, tablets, and mobile phones to connect to your computer network as well as the Internet.
However, if your business only has one device that needs to connect to the Internet, you don’t need a router or a switch. You can connect directly with the modem to access the Internet.
Modems connect to the Internet in two different ways:
- Coaxial Cable (think Comcast and other providers of cable television)
- DSL (phone lines like CenturyLink)
There are modem/router/switch combination devices.
Business computer networks usually connect to the Internet through a coaxial cable modem and a business router. If your router doesn’t have enough ports (places to plug the connecting cables into), then you can add a switch to give you more.
We’re here to partner with you
We hope that after reading this article you know a little more about your computer network and feel more confident about this part of your business. We’re here to partner with you in caring for it. We know your business is unique and requires a customized setup. We have experienced and friendly service engineers who can work with you to design and care for your computer network.
The following videos offer fantastic visual explanations of switches, routers, and modems:
Modem vs Router – What’s the difference?
Learn more about Servers:
What Is A Server?