Computer networks are widely used in businesses, and increasingly in homes as well. As the price of routers, switches and other network hardware declines, even the smallest firms are looking into installing their own local area networks. Installing a local area network (LAN) has a number of advantages for both home users and business owners, but it is important to understand the challenges as well as the opportunities.
With a computer network in place it is easy to share files, printers and other system resources. All a user needs to do is log on to one of the networked computers, and she will instantly have access to all of the resources on that network. Network users can instantly open files, review them and provide feedback, all without ever leaving their desks.
A local area network can also significantly lower hardware and software costs by allowing users to share resources. Instead of buying everyone in the office a desktop printer, business owners can save money by purchasing one or two printers and letting everyone in the office share them. Other costly hardware, including copiers and scanners, can be shared in the same manner.
Virus Issues and Security Concerns
One of the disadvantages of a computer network is that if one computer on the network catches a virus, that virus can quickly spread to the rest of the computers. That is why security is such an important concern for network administrators, and no business should set up a network without a strong security plan in place.
Downtime is another risk with a network operation. When each computer is a standalone entity, the failure of a single computer will not affect operations. But if the network servers, switches, routers or other equipment goes down, the entire network will be impacted.