Components and Terms
Before you get started with networking, try to familiarize yourself with some of the essential components and terms.
Cable / DSL modem – This is a box that sends and receives data on your ISP’s network. If you have cable service, you’ll see a coaxial cable going to the box. If you have DSL, you’ll see a phone cable going to the box. Also, you’ll see an Ethernet jack that is used to connect the modem to your computer or router.
Cable / DSL router – This box has a WAN port that connects to your cable / DSL modem using a network cable. Your router will also have jacks on it that you can use to connect computers, Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives and other network devices. Often these routers will have wireless capabilities.
Hubs and switches – This is a separate box that usually doesn’t have a WAN port that has four or more jacks for network cables used to connect devices to the network.
Network Cable – This is a cable that has a connector that looks like a phone connector only larger on both ends. This is usually a category 5 or 5e Ethernet cable. These cables are used to connect devices to your router.
Network Adapter – A connector on a computer or other network enabled device that allows it to be connected to a router, hub, or switch via a network cable. Wireless network adapters are often in laptops and other devices that don’t require a connector as they connect via radio waves.
Firewall – A program that runs on your computer or a physical box to provide security for your network.