Types of Computer Network – Classification and Function

In Computer Networking Skills, Computer Skills
Types of Computer Network

All types of computer network consisting two or more computers connected electronically. In common understanding, computer network refers to a set of computers that simultaneously communicate with each other using the network. The main purpose of establishing one of the computer network types is to enable data communication between the users in a computer network.

Generally, there are three major classifications of computer networks. In which, types of computer network are differentiated based on geographical location, network architecture, and transmission technology. Here we are going to describe the functions of each of them and how those types of computer network distribute data. A peer-to-peer architecture in a computer network has no special server or hierarchy on the computer. Each computer position is the same and therefore known as peer. Generally, the role of every computer is the same, which acts as a Client or Server. No one is assigned to be the administrator that is responsible for all networks. A peer-to-peer computer network is the best choice for small organizational needs, where the location of the users are in the same general location. In this case, computer network security is not a significant problem.

A Client-Server computer network architecture is sometimes called as a server-based computer network. Client/Server refers to the work-sharing plan that participates in data processing on the client computer as well as the most powerful server computer. The client/server computer network is the most effective one to provide database and application management. Includes spreadsheet, accounting, communication, document management, and computer network management. The centralized-file storage on a client/server computer network architecture is essentially the process of distribution or cooperative processing.

In a computer network, there are three main elements that you must understand, namely:

1. Host or node, i.e. a computer system that serves as the source or recipient of the transmitted data. This node can be:

  • Server: computer data storage and application programs used in the network,
  • Client: computers that can access resources (in the form of data and application programs) that exist on the server,
  • Shared peripherals: devices connected and used in the network (for example, printers, scanners, hard drives, modems, etc.).

2. Link. It means the communication medium that connects between one node with another node. This type of medium can be a cable or a wireless transmission line.

3. Software, a program that organizes and manages the network as a whole. Including the network operating system that serves as a regulator of data communications and peripherals in the network.

Types of Computer Network

The following is the classification list for types of computer network:

1. Types of Networks Based on Geographical Location

Local Area Network (LAN).

LAN computer network can be in one building or in the same location. The data transmission speed of LAN is really fast and light (starting from 10 Mbps up). LAN uses additional network devices to support the networking such as a repeater, hub, and so on.

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

MAN is one of computer network types that is a combination of multiple LANs located in one city (50-75 miles range) and they are connected by a special cable or over a telephone line. The transmission speed of MAN is between 56 Kbps to 1 Mbps and using network devices such as a router , telephone, ATM switch, and dish antenna.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

WAN is a composite of LAN or MAN computer networks from all over the earth that connects through telephone lines, electromagnetic waves, or satellites. The transmission speed of WAN is slower the previous 2 types of computer network and it also uses network devices such as routers, modems, WAN switches.

2. Types of Networks Based on Network Architecture

A computer network architecture is the procedure of hardware and software utilization in a network so that one computer can communicate with another computer and exchange data. There are three forms computer network architectures, including;

Peer-to-Peer Network

In the peer-to-peer network, all computers have an equal/parallel position in the same hierarchy. Every computer can be a client against other peer computers and each computer can also share resources with other computers in the same peer-to-peer network. The resources are decentralized to each member of the network and do not require network administrator.

The information can flow between two computers directly, anywhere. However, a peer-top-peer computer network is not completely free without control. You can use a password to protect your files and folders. You may also make some restriction settings so that other people cannot use certain peripherals.

The peer-to-peer computer network is ease to install, maintain, and low cost. It’s why this computer network type becomes the most used network for fewer computers (about 2 to 20 computers).

The trait of the peer-to-peer network is used for a connection among computers in an existing computer network so that data communication occurs among those computers with the same hierarchy. It’s because each computer can work as a server or client.

Server-Based Network/Server-Client Network

In this type of computer network, the software that controls the overall work of the network resides on the server. This network can connect hundreds of computers with a security level that is not possible in a peer-to-peer network. Read also how to use Filezilla FTP client.

You can make some restriction settings in this type of computer network so that each client must log on to the server before it can utilize the resources on the server. The server then authenticates the client and verifies the computer that the client’s computer has the permission to log on to the network by checking the client’s username and password towards the database on the server.

Hybrid Network

This type of computer network is a combination of the properties of peer to peer and client/server networks. It’s a  workgroup that consists of multiple interconnection computers which are able to manage resources without requiring authorization from a network administrator or server. In this type of computer network, there is also a trait of client/server network in such a way that the security level can be more secure and the server has a certain service function, such as file server, print server, database server, mail server, etc.

3. Types of Networks Based on Transmission Technology

Switch Network

This type of network transmission technology transmits information from the sender to the receiver through an intermediary machine or telephone line.

Broadcast Network

The broadcast network transmission technology transmits information from the sender to the receiver by broadcasting (broadcast in all directions) either through a cable channel or wireless channel.

The Components of LAN

Some basic components that usually form a LAN include:

1. Workstation

In a network, the workstation is actually a node or host in the form of a computer system. Users connect to the network through a workstation and also communicate with each other like exchanging data. Users can also access application programs on the workstation that can work alone on the workstation (stand-alone) itself or use a network to share information with the workstation or other users.

The workstation can serve as:


As the name implies, this is the hardware that works to serve the network and clients which are connected to the network. A server can be a computer system that is specifically made for certain purposes, such as for sharing printer use (print server), for an external LAN connection to other networks (communication server), and file servers i.e. disk sharing which is used by multiple clients. This server can not be used as a client because of both on its hardware and software, it only serves to manage the network. Recommended reading: How to connect a computer to a network printer.

There is also a server in the form of a workstation with large disk drive capacity, so the server can also be used as a workstation by the users.


A workstation generally serves as a client of a server because the workstation will indeed use the facilities provided by a server. So, the server serves, while the client is served.

2. Link

Link or the connection in a Local Network are known as a cable or wireless transmission medium that physically connect servers and clients. Find out more about the types of network cabling.

3. Transceiver

Transceiver (transmitter-receiver) is a hardware tool that connects a workstation or computer system with a transmission media.

4. Network Card (Network Interface Card/NIC)

A network card is a card that is installed on a PC which works to control the data exchange between workstations in a local network. Each workstation must be equipped with a NIC that is physically connected directly to the internal bus of the PC.

5. Network Software

Network software includes:

  • LAN operating system,
  • application software,
  • programming software, and
  • program utilities.

The network software programs are crucial and absolute to enable communication between one computer system with another computer system. Without this software, a network will not work. Computer systems with LAN can run all application software that can run on stand-alone PCs.

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