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Chapter 30. Using Windows XP to Set Up a... > Stuff You Need: Understanding Networ... - Pg. 361

Using Windows XP to Set Up a Small Network 361 Networking Advantages A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers that are relatively close together (for example, in the same office or in the same house) and that are connected via a cable that plugs in to special hardware inside each machine. (For variety, I use the terms LAN and network interchangeably in this chapter.) What's the point of such connections? One word: sharing . Having your computers lashed together in a network opens up a whole new world for sharing things: · You can send data along the network cables, so it's criminally easy to fire off a file to another machine, or to grab a file you need (assuming, of course, that you have the necessary permission to do so). · Devices--such as a printer or CD-ROM--on one machine can be made visible to the rest of the network. This means the other computers can print to that one printer, for example. · A single Internet connection--whether it's via a regular modem, a cable modem, or a digital subscriber line (DSL)--can be shared with everyone on the network. · If a computer happens to have a lot of empty hard disk space, it can be shared with the network and thus used as a convenient (and fast) location for backups. A network will make your computing life more convenient, which probably isn't too surprising. How- ever, it will also make your computing life cheaper because you need fewer devices (such as printers and tape drives for backups) and you can share a single Internet account. Basic Network Know-How