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{{#invoke:Sidebar|sidebar}} A computer network or data network is a telecommunications network which allows computers to exchange data. In computer networks, networked computing devices exchange data with each other along network links (data connections). The connections between nodes are established using either cable media or wireless media. The best-known computer network is the Internet.

Network computer devices that originate, route and terminate the data are called network nodes.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}</ref> Nodes can include hosts such as personal computers, phones, servers as well as networking hardware. Two such devices can be said to be networked together when one device is able to exchange information with the other device, whether or not they have a direct connection to each other.

Computer networks differ in the transmission media used to carry their signals, the communications protocols to organize network traffic, the network's size, topology and organizational intent. In most cases, communications protocols are layered on (i.e. work using) other more specific or more general communications protocols, except for the physical layer that directly deals with the transmission media.

Computer networks support applications such as access to the World Wide Web, shared use of application and storage servers, printers, and fax machines, and use of email and instant messaging applications.


Computer network sections
Intro  History  Properties  Network packet  Network topology  Communications protocols  Geographic scale  Organizational scope  Routing  Network service  Network performance  Security  Views of networks  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

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