Switches, routers, and wireless access points are the essential networking basics. Through them, devices connected to your network can communicate with one another and with other networks, like the Internet. Switches, routers, and wireless access points perform very different functions in a network. The following hardware is referred to as network hardware, and various pieces are often part of.
- Digital Modem (e.g., Cable Modem, DSL Modem, etc.)
- Router: The router, at least the common home network device that is usually called a router, is the piece of network hardware that allows communication between your local home network—like your personal computers and other connected devices—and the internet.
- Network Switch: High-performance network switches are still widely used in corporate networks and data centers. Network switches are sometimes referred to as switching hubs, bridging hubs or MAC bridges.
- Access Point: Wireless access points (APs or WAPs) are networking devices that allow WI-Fi devices to connect to a wired network. They form wireless local-area networks (WLANs). An access point acts as a central transmitter and receiver of wireless radio signals. Mainstream wireless APs support Wi-Fi and are used in homes, public internet hot spots, and business networks to accommodate wireless mobile devices. The access point can be incorporated into the wired router or stand-alone router.
- Repeater: Network repeaters (also called signal boosters and range extenders) are small devices that receive incoming electrical, wireless, and optical signals and re transmit them to spots that Ethernet and Wi-Fi data transmissions can’t reach. Repeaters attempt to preserve signal integrity and extend the distance over which data can travel.
- Bridge: A network bridge joins two separate computer networks. The network bridge enables communication between the two networks and provides a way for them to work as a single network. Bridges extend local area networks to cover a larger physical area than the LAN can reach. Bridges are similar to — but more intelligent than — simple repeaters, which also extend signal range.
- Print Server
- Firewall: A network firewall protects a computer network from unauthorized access. It might take the form of a hardware device, a software program, or a combination of the two.
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