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Networks and servers

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Cable and wireless networks

A computer network, often simply referred to as a network, is a collection of computers and devices interconnected by communications channels that facilitate communications among users and allows users to share resources.

They can be used for a variety of reasons, including facilitating communications (e.g. email), sharing hardware (e.g. printers), sharing files, data & information, sharing software, information preservation and security. [Source]

Wireless networks are networks that are not connected by cables of any kind. They are a method by which telecommunications networks and enterpise (business), installations avoid the costly process of introducing cables into to a building, or as a connection between various equipment locations. Wireless telecommunications networks are generally implemented and administered using a transmission system called radio waves. This implementation takes place at the physical level, (layer), of the network structure. [Source]

Wired networks are typically faster than wireless networks, and they can be very affordable. However, the cost of Ethernet cable can add up - the more computers on your network and the farther apart they are, the more expensive your network will be. There are three basic systems people use to set up wired networks. An Ethernet system uses either a twisted copper-pair or coaxial-based transport system. The most commonly used cable for Ethernet is a category 5 unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable - it's useful for businesses who want to connect several devices together, such as computers and printers, but it's bulky and expensive, making it less practical for home use. A phone line, on the other hand, simply uses existing phone wiring found in most offices and homes, and can provide fast services such as DSL. Finally, broadband systems provide cable Internet and use the same type of coaxial cable that gives us cable television. [Source]

Secure network configuration

It is important to secure your network to stop unauthorised devices from connecting to it. You don't want anyone with a laptop to be able to come in to your bulding (or even sit in a car outside it!) and access your internet, files or hardware devices (such as a printer).

The first line of defense for your Wi-Fi network is encryption, which encodes the data transmitted between your PC and your wireless router. Make sure you change the default network name and password on your router. Doing so will make it much more difficult for hackers to break into your router and commandeer its settings.

The firewall built into your router prevents hackers on the Internet from getting access to your PC. But it does nothing to stop people in range of your Wi-Fi signal from getting onto your network--and with the latest high-performance equipment, your Wi-Fi signal could reach right down the road. Without encryption and other protective measures, anyone can use readily available tools to see all your Wi-Fi traffic. For extra protection, you should run software firewalls on the individual PCs on your network.

The best way to protect a public wireless link is by using a virtual private network, or VPN. VPNs keep your communications safe by creating secure "tunnels" through which your encrypted data travels. [Source]

Email and file server set-up

Email set-up involves configuring your email programs to receive emails sent to your email address, and also send emails from that address. Different users can be set for different user accounts, and emails can be redirected to various other address if required. For example, you might give all of your employees their own email address, e.g., but you also want to be able to view a copy of ALL emails sent to on your computer.

A server computer is a computer, or series of computers, that link other computers or electronic devices together. They often provide essential services across a network, either to private users inside a large organisation or to public users via the internet. For example, when you enter a query in a search engine, the query is sent from your computer over the internet to the servers that store all the relevant web pages. The results are sent back by the server to your computer. [Source]

Linux/Unix server set-up

Linux refers to the family of Unix-like computer operating systems using the Linux kernel. Linux can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from mobile phones, tablet computers and video game consoles, to mainframes and supercomputers. Linux is a leading server operating system, and runs the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world.

Linux distributions have long been used as server operating systems, and have risen to prominence in that area. Since February 2010, Linux distributions represented six of the top ten server opreating systems, FreeBSD two of ten, and Microsoft one of ten. [Source]

MS Small Business server

Designed and priced for small businesses, Windows Small Business Server 2011 is an affordable, all-in-one server solution to help your business run more efficiently. It provides core functionality for:

  • Networking
  • Security
  • Advanced e-mail and calendar capabilities
  • Database and line-of-business support
  • Document and printer sharing
  • Remote Access

Windows Small Business Server offers you a server solution with reduced complexity and increased manageability over traditional enterprise servers, helping you to focus on running a more efficient business. [Source]

Firewall, Antivirus, Spyware

A firewall is a part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorised access while permitting authorised communications. It is a device or set of devices that is configured to permit or deny network transmissions based upon a set of rules and other criteria.

Firewalls can be implemented in either hardware or software, or a combination of both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorised Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which inspects each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria. [Source]

Antivirus or anti-virus software is used to prevent, detect, and remove computer viruses, worms, and trojan horses. It may also prevent and remove adware, spyware, and other forms of malware. This page talks about the software used for the prevention and removal of such threats, rather than computer security implemented by software methods. [Source]

Spyware is a type of malware that can be installed on computers, and which collects small pieces of information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user, and can be difficult to detect. Typically, spyware is secretly installed on the user's personal computer. Sometimes, however, spywares such as keyloggers are installed by the owner of a shared, corporate, or public computer on purpose in order to secretly monitor other users. [Source]

Remote access configuration

Remote access is the ability to connect and make use of some type of data or information without being closely located to the location of that information. In most situations, remote access refers to the ability to connect with internal networks from a remote location, and make use of the resources that are housed on the network. The process of remote access has become an extremely valuable business tool, especially among business professionals who work at home or travel frequently for work.

In order to engage in remote access to a private network, the user usually needs access to the Internet. Companies establish portals that make it possible for authorised personnel to gain access to the company's servers from any computer around the world, as long as that computer is connected to the Internet. There is usually some type of login credentials required to successfully complete the connection to the server. This makes it possible to monitor who is connecting from a remote location, monitor which resources they work with, and also log how long the connection is maintained by keeping track of the entry and exit times associated with each set of credentials. [Source]

Cloud Computing/Storage

Cloud computing provides computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. Parallel to this concept can be drawn with the electricity grid, wherein end-users consume power without needing to understand the component devices or infrastructure required to provide the service.

Cloud computing providers deliver applications via the internet, which are accessed from web browsers and desktop and mobile apps, while the business software and data are stored on servers at a remote location. [Source]

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