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            How does one get two computers to interact with each other? By using a network. A network allows two or more computers to exchange data over a medium. Rules are needed so that the computers know how to communicate. These rules for the language computers use to transmit information are called protocols. As with the many different languages people around the world use to communicate, there are many different protocols. Some of these protocols include IPX, SPX, NetBEUI, TCP, and IP. Without protocols, communication between computers on a network would not be possible. Each protocol has it’s own set of responsibilities and characteristics. Some protocols are faster, and others are more reliable. Compatibility Protocol compatibility is an important issue. Since a protocol is like a language for computers on a network, it is important that the devices on a network speak the same language, or use the same protocol, so that data can be successfully delivered. For example, if a computer on a network needs to print a document, it is necessary for the computer and the network printer to have the same protocol. Once a standard is established, all the devices on a network will be able to work together in a network environment. If two devices on a network are not using the same protocol, the two devices will be unable to communicate (Whitehead 125). Protocol Stacks Some protocols are used in conjunction with each other to exchange data between computers. These protocols are called protocol stacks, or a protocol suite. The two most common examples of protocol stacks are TCP/IP and IPX/SPX. In the example of TCP/IP, the TCP protocol is responsible for the transfer of information between to computers or devices and the IP protocol is responsible for addressing and directing data so that it is delivered to the proper recipient. There are also other protocols associated with TCP/IP that have different responsibilities (Whitehead 124).

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