There are many components that can be part of a network, for example personal computers, servers, networking devices, and cabling. These components can be grouped into four main categories:
The network components that people are most familiar with are hosts and shared peripherals. Hosts are devices that send and receive messages directly across the network.
Shared peripherals are not directly connected to the network, but instead are connected to hosts. The host is then responsible for sharing the peripheral across the network. Hosts have computer software configured to enable people on the network to use the attached peripheral devices.
The network devices, as well as networking media, are used to interconnect hosts.
Some devices can play more than one role, depending on how they are connected. For example, a printer directly connected to a host (local printer) is a peripheral. A printer directly connected to a network device and participates directly in network communications is a host.
Shared peripheral devices do not communicate directly on the network. Instead, peripherals rely on their connected host to perform all network operations. Examples of shared peripherals are cameras, scanners, and locally attached printers.
Hosts send and receive user traffic. A host is a generic name for most end-user devices. A host has an IP network address. Examples of hosts are personal computers and network attached printers.
Networking devices connect other devices, mainly hosts. These devices move and control network traffic. Examples of network devices include hubs, swtiches, and routers.
Network media provides connections between hosts and network devices. Network media can be wired, such as copper and fiber optic or use wireless technologies.