Key Differences between a Network and Internet


In the world of computer technology, there are two terms commonly used: network and internet. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings and functionalities. In this article, we will explore the key differences between a network and the internet, including their definitions, objectives, connectivity, and control.

What is a Network?

A network is a group of two or more connected computers that can share resources such as printers, internet connections, applications, and more. It is a collection of computer systems and devices that are linked together using a wireless network or communication devices and transmission media.

A network provides connectivity between computers and devices within a restricted range, where only one entity has administrative rights to manage the network. This entity controls and authorises the entire system.

There are different types of networks, including:

  1. Local Area Network (LAN): A LAN connects a small number of systems in a relatively close geographical area, such as a floor or nearby surroundings of a building.
  2. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN): A MAN is a communication infrastructure developed in and around large cities.
  3. Wide Area Network (WAN): A WAN connects two or more local area networks over a large geographic distance, such as a state, province, or country.

What is the Internet?

The internet, also known as the interconnected network, is a global system that uses the TCP/IP protocol suite to link various types of electronic devices worldwide. It is a collection of interconnected devices spread across the globe, forming a network of networks.

Unlike a network, no single entity controls the internet. It is a decentralised system where no one entity has administrative rights or control over the entire network. The internet consists of public, private, sales, finance, academic, business, and government networks, among others.

The main objective of the internet is to provide knowledge and facilitate communication among users. It allows users to access information, send and receive emails, participate in discussion groups, and engage in various online activities.

Key Differences between Network and Internet

Here are the key differences between a network and the internet:

  1. Connection:
  2. A network connects systems using different parameters, such as a wireless network or communication devices. It connects a relatively small number of computers within a restricted range.
  3. The internet connects networks across the world, allowing millions of computers to be linked at the same time.
  4. Connectivity:
  5. In a network, one entity has administrative rights to manage the network, controlling and authorising the entire system.
  6. On the internet, no single entity controls the system. It is a decentralised network of networks.
  7. Number of Connected Computers:
  8. A network connects hundreds or a few thousand computers at one time.
  9. The internet connects millions of computers simultaneously.
  10. Objective:
  11. The main objective of a network is to exchange data and collaborate with peers.
  12. The main objective of the internet is to provide knowledge and facilitate communication over the network.
  13. Types:
  14. Networks can be categorised into different types, such as LAN, WAN, MAN, and Home Area Network (HAN).
  15. The internet is a global system that links various types of electronic devices worldwide.

Why do you Need a Network?

A network offers several advantages and benefits, including:

  1. File Sharing: Networks provide a fast and effective method for sharing and transferring files between connected computers and devices.
  2. Cost Savings: The network version of most software programs is available at considerable savings compared to buying individual licenced copies for each computer. Additionally, software can be loaded on a primary server and used on every computer connected to the network, eliminating the need to install it on each individual system.
  3. Easy Connectivity and Communication: Networks enable easy connectivity and fast communication between computers and devices within the network.
  4. Internet Access Sharing: Networks allow multiple computers to share a single internet connection, reducing costs and providing access to the internet for all connected devices.
  5. Performance Enhancement and Load Balancing: Networks can help improve performance and distribute the load among connected computers, ensuring efficient utilisation of resources.

Why do you Need the Internet?

The internet provides connectivity between computers and devices on a global scale, offering various benefits and functionalities, including:

  1. Email Communication: The internet allows users to send and receive email messages from any location, facilitating efficient communication.
  2. File Transfer: With the internet, users can easily send or receive files between different computers, enabling seamless data sharing.
  3. Participation in Online Communities: The internet enables users to participate in discussion groups, mailing lists, and newsgroups, allowing them to engage with like-minded individuals and share information and ideas.
  4. E-commerce Opportunities: The internet provides a platform for businesses of all sizes to sell their products and services globally, reaching a wider audience and expanding their market reach.
  5. Access to Information: The internet makes information readily available worldwide, eliminating the need to search for books in different libraries. Users can search for information online and access a vast amount of knowledge.
  6. Stay Updated: The internet keeps users updated with the latest news, technologies, and trends, allowing them to stay informed and connected to the world.
  7. Social Interaction: The internet enables users to connect with people who share similar interests through communities, forums, chats, websites, and social media platforms.
  8. Convenience in Bill Payment: The internet facilitates online bill payment using credit cards, saving time spent standing in queues and providing a convenient way to manage finances.

History of Network

The development of computer networks can be traced back to the 1950s and 1960s when terminal-oriented networks were introduced. These networks were expensive, and time-sharing techniques were developed to allow multiple users to share the same resources.

In the 1960s and 1970s, as the cost of computers dropped, the need for interconnecting and communicating between mainframe computers became essential. This led to the development of networks that enabled mainframes to connect and share information.

In the 1960s, APRANET was created as the first real attempt to develop a network that could interconnect computers over a wide geographic area.

In the 1980s, the concept of Local Area Networks (LANs) emerged, and affordable computers became available. Different LAN topologies, such as bus, ring, and star, were introduced.

History of the Internet

The history of the internet can be traced back to various milestones:

  • In 1962, J.C.R. Licklider pioneered the concept of an “Intergalactic Computer Network,” envisioning a global network that could connect computers from different locations.
  • In 1982, the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) was standardised, providing a common set of protocols for interconnected networks to communicate.
  • In 1990, the World Wide Web was introduced by Tim Berners-Lee, revolutionising the way information is accessed and shared on the internet.
  • In 1995, the mainstream search engine Yahoo was created, making it easier for users to find information online.

Since then, the internet has expanded rapidly, covering a significant part of the globe and growing exponentially.

Features of Network

Some important features of a network include:

  • High capacity load balancing to optimise resource utilisation.
  • Indoor and outdoor coverage options to provide connectivity in various environments.
  • Weighted algorithm for determining the most efficient routeing paths.
  • Web content and application filtering to control and manage network traffic.

Features of the Internet

Some important features of the internet include:

  • Global network connecting millions of computers and devices.
  • Decentralised system with no single entity controlling the entire network.
  • Independence of each computer over the internet.
  • Various ways to access the internet, such as through wired or wireless connections.

Disadvantages of Network

While networks offer numerous advantages, they also have some disadvantages, including:

  • High initial setup costs due to the hardware and software requirements.
  • Potential for undesirable sharing of resources or unauthorised access.
  • Possibility of illegal or undesirable behaviour within the network.
  • Data security concerns, as networks are vulnerable to breaches and unauthorised access.
  • Regular maintenance and updates require time and expertise.

Disadvantages of the Internet

Similarly, the internet has its own set of disadvantages, including:

  • Potential for security breaches, including hacking and identity theft.
  • Exposure to harmful or inappropriate content.
  • Dependency on internet service providers (ISPs) for connectivity.
  • Privacy concerns, as online activities can be tracked and monitored.
  • Spread of misinformation and fake news.

In conclusion, while a network and the internet are related concepts, they have distinct differences in terms of connectivity, control, objectives, and scope. Networks connect computers and devices within a restricted range, while the internet connects networks across the world. Understanding these differences is crucial for effective utilisation and management of computer systems and connectivity.

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