Basic Networking Terms Glossary
10BaseT - Ethernet specification for unshielded twisted pair cable (category 3, 4, or 5), transmits signals at 10 Mbps (megabits per second) with a distance limit of 100 meters per segment.
100BaseT - Ethernet specification for unshielded twisted pair cabling that is used to transmit data at 100 Mbps (megabits per second) with a distance limit of 100 meters per segment.
1000BaseTX - Ethernet specification for unshielded twisted pair cabling that is used to trasmit data at 1 Gbps (gigabits per second) with a distance limitation of 220 meters per segment.
Access Point - An access point is a wireless connection device that acts as a bridge from the wireless devices to wired devices. APs, by definition, do not have any routing ability or the ability to assign DHCP addresses, and would require a router or DHCP server to assign that information.
Backbone - A cable to which multiple nodes or workstations are attached.
Bit - Binary digit in the binary numbering system. Its value can be 0 or 1. In an 8-bit character scheme, it takes 8 bits to make a byte (character) of data.
Bridge - Devices that connect and pass packets between two network segments that use the same communications protocol, but different network topologies. For example, a bridge would be used to connect an Ethernet network to a Token Ring network.
Cable - Transmission medium of copper wire or optical fiber wrapped in a protective cover.
Client/Server - A networking system in which one or more file servers (Server) provide services; such as network management, application and centralized data storage for workstations (Clients).
Crossover Cable - Some customers may be connecting the Ethernet jack to just one other item. If they want to connect one computer to another computer, they will need a cross-over cable. It's a special cable designed with some wires crossed in it to allow one Ethernet card to talk to another one.
Default Gateway - A Default Gateway is the IP address of a computer that's able to access the next level of a network. For most home users, the default gateway will be the computer that has direct access to the internet.
DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) - This is a service that supplies IP addresses to devices on a network. When you configure your network in Windows, if you look at the properties of the TCP/IP protocol, you have two settings on the general or IP tab:
DNS (Domain Name Server) - This is a server (computer) that has a list of domain names and IP addresses. When you try to go to a web address such as
www.gateway.com, the DNS server converts the common language name into an IP address. In this example it would be 220.127.116.11. If you were to type that set of numbers into the address bar of your browser, your browser would go to gateway.com.
Ethernet - A network protocol invented by Xerox Corporation and developed jointly by Xerox, Intel and Digital Equipment Corporation. Ethernet networks use CSMA/CD and runs over a variety of cable types at 10 Mbps, 100Mbps, and 1000Mbps (megabits per second).
Fiber Optic Cable - A cable, consisting of a center glass core surrounded by layers of plastic, that transmits data using light rather than electricity. It has the ability to carry more information over much longer distances.
File Server - A computer connected to the network that contains primary files/applications and shares them as requested with the other computers on the network. If the file server is dedicated for that purpose only, it is connected to a client/server network. An example of a client/server network is Novell Netware. All the computers connected to a peer-to-peer network are capable of being the file server. Two examples of peer-to-peer networks are LANtastic and Windows for Workgroups.
Gigabit Ethernet - An Ethernet protocol that raises the transmission rates to 1 Gbps (gigabits per second). It is primarily used for a high speed backbone of a network, but can be run to the desktop..
Gigabyte (GB) - One billion bytes of information. One thousand megabytes.
Hub - A hardware device that contains multiple independent but connected modules of network and internetwork equipment. Typically, hubs are "dumb" devices, and when a network adapter sends a packet, the hub will transmit it to every computer on the network, and the client adapter needs to determine if the packet belongs or not.
Infrared - Electromagnetic waves whose frequency range is above that of microwaves, but below that of the visible spectrum.
Intranet - Network internal to an organization that uses Internet protocols.
Internet - A global network of networks used to exchange information using the TCP/IP protocol. It allows for electronic mail and the accessing ad retrieval of information from remote sources.
LAN (Local Area Network) - A network connecting computers in a relatively small area such as a building.
MAC (Media Access Control) Address - A MAC address is a twelve digit number that is unique to the network device. Every network device has its own MAC address. It's like the device's serial number. TCP/IP uses the MAC address as part of the Data Link layer to identify the computer the packet should be opened by.
(Metropolitan Area Network) - A network connecting computers over a large geographical area, such as a city or school district.
Modem (Modulator/Demodulator) - Devices that convert digital and analog signals. Modems allow computer data (digital) to be transmitted over voice-grade telephone lines (analog).
Network Modem - A modem connected to a Local Area Network (LAN) that is accessible from any workstation on the network.
Network Interface Card (NIC) - A board that provides network communication capabilities to and from a computer.
Node - End point of a network connection. Nodes include any device attached to a network such as file servers, printers, or workstations.
Node Devices - Any computer or peripheral that is connected to the network.
Peer-to-Peer Network - A network in which resources and files are shared without a centralized management source.
Physical Topology - The physical layout of the network; how the cables are arranged; and how the computers are connected.
Point-to-Point - A direct link between two objects in a network.
Ports - A connection point for a cable.
Protocol - A formal description of a set of rules and conventions that govern how devices on a network exchange information.
Repeater - A device used in a network to strengthen a signal as it is passed along the network cable.
RJ-45 - Standard connectors used for unshielded twisted-pair cable.
Router - A device that routes information between interconnected networks. It can select the best path to route a message, as well as translate information from one network to another. A common example would be a broadband router used by most homes with broadband Internet access. All network devices in the home connect to the router, which forwards requests to the Internet.
Segment - Refers to a section of cable on a network. In Ethernet networks, two types of segments are defined. A populated or trunk segment is a network cable that has one or more nodes attached to it. A link segment is a cable that connects a computer to an interconnecting device, such as a repeater or concentrator, or connects a interconnecting device to another interconnecting device.
Speed of Data Transfer - The rate at which information travels through a network, usually measured in megabits per second.
Subnet Mask - The Subnet Mask is a secondary portion of the IP address. It helps identify what segment of the network you are on, and allows for reuse of private IP addresses. Computers on the same network segment have to have the same subnet. The subnet acts as a pointer for routers, switches, and gateways to access a computer. Typically, the DHCP server should assign the Subnet automatically.
Switch - A switch is very similar to a hub, acting as a transmission device for a network. The main difference is that a switch is a smart device, routing packets only to the computer that should receive it, instead of bombarding every item on the network.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) - A TCP/IP address (commonly called an IP address) can be thought of as a similar to a street address. It's used to identify who a computer is, how it receives data, and where it goes to send data. To communicate on a network connection, the computer will need some sort of IP address. To look at an IP address in Windows Vista/XP/2000, use ipconfig from the Command Prompt.
Terminator - A device that provides electrical resistance at the end of a transmission line. Its function is to absorb signals on the line, thereby keeping them from bouncing back and being received again by the network.
Twisted Pair - Network cabling that consists of four pairs of wires that are manufactured with the wires twisted to certain specifications. Available in shielded and unshielded versions.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) Port - A hardware interface for low-speed peripherals such as the keyboard, mouse, joystick, scanner, printer, and telephony devices.
WAN (Wide Area Network) - A network connecting computers within very large areas, such as states, countries, and the world.
Workgroup - A collection of workstations and servers on a LAN that are designated to communicate and exchange data with one another.
Workstation - A computer connected to a network at which users interact with software stored on the network.
- obtain an IP address automatically means the system will expect to get an IP address from the DHCP server
- Specify an IP address or Use the Following IP Address means the user knows the IP address they want to use and they will enter it manually (static IP).
If they are set to "obtain and IP address automatically", the DHCP server's IP address will have to appear next to the DHCP listing in their IP configuration in order for an IP address to be assigned to their computer.