A network system for any location is important. Whether it is for a major corporation, a local business, school, or your own home, the network is what allows each individual to perform their specific job function, search the Internet, and communicate with another business or person over long distances. Without one piece of the network configuration, the entire structure falls apart and is rendered useless. Just because a home network system may be small, it does not mean that it is any less important than a larger one. This paper will look at the basic layout of a home network system in terms of its hardware, protocol, and topology.
Basic Home Network System HardwareA basic home networking system usually consists of the computer itself, which usually includes the hard drive, monitor, keyboard, speakers, and mouse, as well as the switch and modem or router (Figure 1). The use of a modem or router will depend on the current capabilities in place, such as a dial-up connection (modem) or service provider Digital Subscriber Line or cable connection (router).
Additional hardware equipment can include a printer, scanner, and wireless laptop; depending on the familyÃÂs needs and desires.
ProtocolThe size of the home system mainly determines what type of protocol to use. If the home network system is small, then a nonroutable protocol such as NetBEUI would be a good choice because the amount of information that needs to be transferred is small. On the other hand, if the home network system is large, then a routable protocol such as Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) or Internetwork Packet Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange (IPX/SPX) would be a good choice because both protocols are able to handle the transmission of information on a much larger scale.
Protocol Disadvantages & SolutionsAs with anything in life, nothing is without disadvantages or weaknesses; networking protocols are no different. Each of the specified protocols has their own disadvantages and solutions. The disadvantage with the NetBEUI is that its functionality and operating capability decrease as more computers are added to the network. This can be solved by switching to the TCP/IP or IPX/SPX protocol due to their ability to handle more information. The disadvantages with TCP/IP are that a ÃÂdetailed configuration of all devices must be included, assigned addresses must be maintained and tracked, and the number of available Internet Protocol (IP) addresses is decreasing due to it commonality throughout the networking worldÃÂ (Tomsho, Tittel, & Johnson, 2004). The solution to this is the implementation of a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) or an upgrade to the new TCP/IP, known as IPv6. The DHCP assigns a new address to a requesting computer until those addresses have all been given, at which time assignment of those addresses is stopped until one that has already been given out becomes available. IPv6 upgrades the original TCP/IP (IPv4) from 32 bits to 128 bits, which basically ÃÂincreases the address amount from 4 billion to 3.4 x 1038ÃÂ (Tomsho, Tittel, & Johnson, 2004); however, IPv6 is still in the developmental stages and might not be available for some time. The disadvantage with the last protocol, IPX/SPX, is that it has almost been phased out by TCP/IP and is usually used for backward compatibility only. The solution to this would be to change to either the IPv4 or IPv6 protocols, not only because they are more of the standard for networking today, but also because the move towards TCP/IP and DHCP is fast becoming the future of networking.
TopologyThe topology of the home network system can vary depending on the needs of the individual and the size of their networking system. Wired topologies like the Bus, Star, and Ring are common in todayÃÂs home networking systems; however, wireless topologies like the peer-to-peer, also called ad-hoc, is fast becoming the standard due to the lack in cables required to perform the transmissions, which eliminates the physical topology altogether (Tomsho, Tittel, & Johnson, 2004). Because of the size of a normal home network system, which usually includes one or two computers, a networked printer, a switch, and a router or modem, the star topology is probably the best choice if the network is wired due to its ease of use, ability for problem-solving, and the fixed location of assets. The ring topology is a good choice for a home network system if there are more than two computers attached to the network because the ability of multiple computers being able to send information and the sharing of information between each computer is increased due to smart hubs and token passing. Furthermore, for those individuals who like the wireless aspect of networking, the peer-to-peer (ad-hoc) topology may be best suited for them; however, this type of topology is mainly used only for small networks due to communications traveling through one central device called an access point (AP). Wireless networks usually use the star topology, so if finances are an issue, it might be best to choose the wired star topology structure.
ConclusionThere really is no ideal network system because each person is different. What one individual believes is the ideal network system may not be what another person believes the ideal network system to be. Because of this, an ideal network system is whatever system a person feels will work best for their situation. While there are obvious advantages of one network system over another, each one is not without its own set of disadvantages. The common network system in todayÃÂs society includes a CPU, network printer, switch, router, TCP/IP protocol, and a star topology (Tomsho, Tittel, & Johnson, 2004); however, advances in technology and the Information Technology (IT) field may soon make even these obsolete.
ReferencesTomsho, G., Tittel, E., & Johnson, D. (2004). Guide to Networking Essentials (4th ed.). Boston,MA: Thompson Learning, Inc.