If your business has more than one computer, chances are you could benefit from networking them. A local area network (LAN) connects your company’s computers, allowing them to share and exchange a variety of information. While one computer can be useful on its own, several networked computers can be much more useful.
Here are some of the ways a computer network can help your business:
- Sharing files. You can access files on other network computers. This can be very handy, for example, when you’re paying bills on a laptop in the living room, and you need a file that’s on the computer in your home office. With a network, you can access that file without having to physically go to the other computer. And you’re in control: with a network, you can share what you want to share and keep private what you want to keep private.
- Streaming media. Media streaming refers to the process of sending digital media, such as photos, music, or video, over a network to a device that can play the media. For instance, you can view your photos or movies on some current-generation TVs, or you can play music on some compatible stereo receivers that are connected to your network.
- Organization. A variety of scheduling software is available that makes it possible to arrange meetings without constantly checking everyone’s schedules. This software usually includes other helpful features, such as shared address books and to-do lists.
- Sharing an Internet connection. You can share a broadband Internet connection—which means you don’t have to buy a separate Internet account for each computer.
- Remote access. Having your own network allows greater mobility while maintaining the same level of productivity. With remote access in place, users are able to access the same files, data, and messages even when they’re not in the office. This access can even be given to mobile handheld devices.
- Playing network games. You can play computer games with other people on the Internet, and you can even connect game consoles (such as Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PlayStation) to your network.
- Sharing a printer. Instead of buying a printer to connect to each computer, you can use one printer and connect it to the network. Then everyone on the network can use it.
- Data protection. You should know by now that it’s vital to back up your computer data regularly. A network makes it easier to back up all of your company’s data on an offsite server, a set of tapes, CDs, or other backup systems.
Of course, this isn’t a complete list; once you have a network, you’ll probably find many other uses for it. And once you get used to the benefits of a network, you’ll never look at your computer the same way again.
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