Computer Networking Terms

Appletalk is an obsolete network protocol once used with Apple Macintosh computers. It does not use TCP/IP.

DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is used to automatically provide TCP/IP settings to computers on a network. Computers that receive their configuration this way are said to have a dynamic IP address.

DNS (Domain Name System) is a technology to match up a computer's name with its IP address. Names are easy for people to remember, but computers and network equipment only understand numbers.


Ethernet is the dominant communication protocol for small office networks that use cables. Ethernet allows computers to communicate using TCP/IP and other protocols.

Internet is a global network of networks using TCP/IP to communicate.


IP address every computer that uses TCP/IP to communicate must have a unique IP address on its network.

LAN (Local Area Network) refers to a computer network that is contained in a small area, usually a single building.


Modem Cable Internet and DSL are two common forms of Internet connection for small offices. Both use a device called a modem to communicate with the Internet Service Provider.

NAT (Network Address Translation) allows a small office network to share a single IP address on the Internet.

Netbios is a communication protocol used by Windows for communication on a LAN. When you browse the network neighborhood for other computers, netbios is involved.

Router: a device that connects two or more computer networks. In a small office setting, a router is used to share an Internet connection. Frequently a small office router is also a DHCP server, DNS forwarder, and uses NAT to share an Internet connection.

Server is a term that describes both software that provides a network service, and/or hardware used to run such software.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is the basic communication language or protocol of the Internet.

WAN (Wide Area Network) refers to a computer network that covers a large area. Offices in different states might be connected by a WAN. This term is also used to refer to the Internet.



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