A-Level ICT Topic 1


Topic 1: Networks

Choosing a network for a company

organisations have different requirements for a network. there are several factors which influence the choice of network chosen. 

factors influencing choice include:

  • cost
  • size of the orgnaisation
  • how the system will be used
  • existing systems
  • performance required
  • security issues
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Can include the cost of the server, cost of cabling as well as the software. This is normally not a problem for larger organisations


Affects the scale of the network


Will determine the topology needed as well as the type of server needed


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The company size determines the complexity of the server. Needs to bigger complexity for when the company is bigger


The new network has to work with the existing ones


Includes: search parameters, stopping hackers and viruses.       

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Types of networks available and the use of associated hardware

With a peer to peer network, each computer has the same status and they are able to communicate with each other on an equal footing. This means that every computer on this type of network can access all the resources of any of the other computers on the network.

The advantages are:

Cost saving, No network manager needed, Easy to set up, No reliance on a server, lower operating costs and peer responsibility

The disadvantages are:

Backups cannot be made centrally, users need IT knowledge, poorer security, may find it hard to find files, only suitable for small networks

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Client server network

Client server networks are the preferred choice for larger networks. In this network, not all computers have the same status. Usually a more powerful computer is used as the central computer, where all the files and programs are stored, and this is called a server. All the other computers are called clients.

The advantages are:

  • Security is better
  • Centralised data
  • Backups taken centrally
  • Faster access to programs and files
  • Centralised administration

The disadvantages are:

  • More expensive
  • Need specialist knowledge
  • Software sophisticated and expensive
  • If server breaks down, the network is then unusable until it can be repaired
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Ring Topology

This is a ring network which is also a P2P network because there is no server

Bus Topology

This is where all the devices connected are connected to a shared cable, called the backbone

Star Topology

This uses a central connection point to connect all the devices on the network together. The central connection point can be a hub, a switch or a router.

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The advantages and disadvantages of the topologies


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Wireless networking

Wireless networks allow people to connect to the internet or a LAN wirelessly. Now, you can connect to your mobile network or connect to the “hotspots” in places like cafes.

How Wi-Fi works

1.The router is connected to the Internet by a high-speed broadband connection

2.Router receives date from internet.                                                       

3.Transmits the data as a radio signal

4.Wireless adapter picks up the signal and turns the radio signal into data so the computer can understand

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Wireless networking: the advantages and the disadvantages


Allows inexpensive LANs to be set up without cables

Allows the freedom of working anywhere a signal can be received

Ideal for networks in old listed buildings where cables would not be allowed to be installed

Global set of standards – you can use Wi-Fi all over the world


Power consumption is high – which means laptops soon exhaust their rechargeable batteries

May be health problems in using Wi-Fi 

Security problems

Home networks have a very limited range

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Networks need software to tell devices how to communicate. There needs to be software to run the network such as UNIX and Linux. They also need management software to help keeping stuff updating.

Everyone who uses a network is given a user account. This is set up by the network manager. The user log keeps a log of what the user gets up to and so forth

Security strategies are just simply ways of keeping the network safe such as log ins and so forth.

Disaster planning:  This is software to make sure that everything is backed up in case a “disaster” happens meaning that the company won’t have to stop day to day activities should the worst happen.

Once a network has been created it needs to be configured to the maximum it can be.

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