Key components required for client workstations to connect to a network and access network resources

In this article, we’ll explain the key components required for client workstations to connect to a network and access network resources. There are many components necessary for connecting workstations to networks which include both hardware and software components.

Client Workstations

The workstations themselves have to be network capable meaning that the hardware needs to have some form of network connections (wired or wireless) on the workstation motherboard (otherwise the workstation can’t possibly become a networked device).

Network Adapters

Network adapters (also called network interface cards or ‘NIC’ cards) are plug-in cards that enable a computer to a network which then provides communications between the network and the computer. In the past, there used to be several types of network adapters available such as coaxial, arcnet and token ring, but today most computers and servers use ethernet network adapters or wireless adapters which are also considered network adapters.


The correct type and length of cabling is required in order to connect devices to a network unless of course you are running a wireless network. In business, a wireless network isn’t usually a reliable, scalable, cost effective way to run a network so cable connections are always the preferred option. There are a variety of different types of networking cables such as twisted pair, ethernet crossover, fibre optic, coaxial, patch and power lines.  When choosing cable you have to be aware of the amount of data flow a cable is capable of providing and the distance that data can travel down the cables, also you have to be aware of data loss due to noise.


If you are going to use wireless networking as an option you have to have a wireless network adapter and a wireless switch, hub or router in place. Range tends to be a big problem with Wi-Fi so in a large building, you typically need multiple wireless access points in order to ensure all areas of the building have coverage. Thick walls, floors and electrical interference from phones, microwaves and other devices are also common causes of signal problems – either reducing / blocking signals or resulting in intermittent connections.

Network Hardware

Using network wires to connect two computers doesn’t make it a network, for this you will need to use hubs and/or switches. However, you can connect two PC’s together using crossover cables that are network cables and can send and receive data, but using these restricts data transfer between those two PC’s only.

A hub is a device with some RJ-45 (or ethernet) ports and each computer on a network would connect to a hub using an ethernet cable. A hub contains a point of connection for each computer on a network. When a computer sends data, it is sent to the hub which in turn sends the data to the receiver. The problem with a hub is data loss. When computers are connected to the hub, every packet of data is sent to every computer connected to the hub which can cause collisions and loss of data. It’s a bit like a group chat. It tends to get noisy and isn’t very efficient or useful for one to one private communication.

A switch is similar to a hub and performs all the basic tasks a hub does except that a switch uses internal logic to create a dedicated, logical path between computers. This means that computers can communicate without worry of collision data loss.

Routers provide connections to broadband, DSL and modems, but its job isn’t to provide internet connections, it is to provide routes for data from one network to another. Some routers provide extra connections via an inbuilt hub for extra computers on a network. Routers see PC’s as nodes on a network.

Network Software

Network software is the software necessary to connect devices to a network. Drivers are needed for example in order to ensure network cards work properly in the network. Drivers contain information and configuration instructions to make sure various hardware components are optimised to work with a specific operating system. Software also comes in the form of protocols such as TCP/IP. TCP is used to break up information sent in to ‘packets’ that can facilitate fast data transfer and ensure safety by minimising loss of information. IP is the route information that contains the IP address of the sender and receiver.  This may need to be configured to work over the network.