A PC network is used to share resources such as files and printers. A PC network is normally based on Ethernet or Token Ring and consists of a number of components:
- Cabling is used to physically connect the components together. A common type of cable used in both Ethernet and Token Ring is twisted pair.
- Clients such as PCs or Macintoshes can be used together on the same network. One often distinguishes between the hardware and the software components of a client. One important hardware component is the NIC, which stands for Network Interface Card, inside the client. The software component responsible for communication consists of two parts: the operating system and communication software. These two together are called Network Operating System. An example of a Network Operating System on a client is DOS and IPX software.
- Servers are used to share documents and programs. Servers are often dedicated powerful computers. There are different types of Network Operating Systems for a server. Examples are Novell Netware, Windows NT and IBM LANServer.
- Printers are common components found in a PC network.
- Gateways, not seen in this picture, are used to translate between two applications or protocols. Gateways are used for communication between different protocols.