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What are Network Hardware Components?

Network refers to connection, and network hardware components represent all physical devices that are required to set up a computer network. Certainly, it’s a technical subject and a matter for IT engineers who are able to establish such networks using hardware components.

So, let’s start figuring out what these components are and what roles and functions they play.

Components of Network Hardware

Enterprises of all sizes, big and small, require these instruments to establish a smooth and running network. The below-mentioned components will brief you about the network hardware.

  1. Routers

The very first instrument is a router. This device is responsible for guiding data packets between networks. They are positioned to work at the network layer (which is layer 3) of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model. Their set-up helps in defining the best way for transitioning data through tables and algorithms. These components connect diverse networks, which can be LANs, to the internet so that additional functions can be performed. These functions can include shielding the network with a firewall, filtering incoming traffic, and network address translation (NAT).

  1. Switches

The next components are switches. These are physically known as network devices that are able to connect multiple devices within a single network. This arrangement of network can be a local area network, or LAN. These switches are installed at the data link layer (Layer 2), or sometimes at the network layer 5. These devices use the Media Access Control address, which is actually a 12-character alphanumeric identifier. It identifies an electronic device on a network. It forwards data to the requisite destination, minimizing an overwhelming network and enhancing its efficiency. The experts providing IT support for small businesses or large businesses know that these switches come with additional features like virtual local area networks (VLAN), quality of service (QoS), and port security. They know how they work and how to utilize them.

  1. Hubs

A hub is a physical layer network device that streams data into all ports except the one (which is the data receiving port). Simply put, hubs establish connectivity with multiple devices within a network. It won’t be incorrect to say that hubs and switches are similar, except for one thing. Hubs are unable to differentiate devices.

Their primary role is to forward data to all connected devices. This data streaming leads to increased network traffic and potential collisions. Because of their inability to differentiate devices, these components are not widely used in modern IT infrastructures for networking.

  1. Modems

Considering the role of modems, which are short for modular demodulation, these devices are able to convert digital signals from a computing device into analog signals. This is how the transmission of data takes place through telephone lines or cable systems. After receiving data, these components transform the signals back into digital form. This is why modems are crucial. Without them, you cannot imagine a computer connecting to the internet. These components prove incredible in environments where digital infrastructure is not scalable.

  1. Access Points

In the networking domain, a wireless access point is a networking hardware device that enables wireless communication to take place within a network. This wireless network is called a wireless local area network (WLAN). With these components, establishing wire-free connectivity is easy. Put simply, laptops or smartphones can be connected through access points. These points use Wi-Fi standards to perform and are also flexible. In simple words, you can use them as standalone devices or integrate them into a router for networking.

  1. Firewalls

A firewall is a device for network security that can track and proactively control incoming unauthorized access to a network. However, its security protocols are preset, which it follows to detect and filter incoming and outgoing traffic. It blocks all risky links.

Firewalls can be hybrid, hardware-based, or software-based. These components can be installed at various layers of the Open System Interconnections model. Deploying it is essential if you really care about network security. It helps small- and large-scale businesses stay away from unauthorized access, like malware, phishing, or other security threats.

  1. Network Interface Cards (NICs)

A network interface card, or NIC, is a hardware device that helps devices connect to a network. IT support experts can identify it easily as a circuit board or chip that is installed on the motherboard of a computer. This component can be integrated into the motherboard (internal) or connected through a USB or other interface (external).

This is simply because they have unique Media Access Control (MAC) addresses. Switches and other networking devices require it to determine and manage network traffic.

  1. Bridges

Bridges are networking components that are required to connect two or more network segments within the same network. In simpler words, a network bridge is a device that connects multiple communication networks or their segments so that a single and aggregated network can be created. They perform at the link layer of data and thereby reduce network traffic by discovering the MAC addresses of connected devices. No matter how effective these components are, bridges are not commonly used. This is because switches have largely replaced them.

  1. Repeaters

Repeaters help in amplifying and regenerating signals. These components recreate signals while passing through the network. This is how they increase the network’s reach while improving the quality of the signals. These components are often useful in extending the transmission in local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN) without causing any data loss. This is how the chances of errors narrow. And the network signals become visible at the intended destination with the required strength and quality.

  1. Gateways

A gateway is a network node or device that connects different networks with distinguished transmission protocols. They perform at the layers of the Open System Interconnection (OS) model. Also, they translate protocols so that communication between different network types can be established. These components are helpful for a small business, especially because they can connect internal networks with external ones (the cloud), like a walkover.


Network components are no stronger than the backbone of a network. These are helpful for small and large enterprises that require an agile IT infrastructure. The aforementioned components help in establishing a smooth network so that communication, data transfer, and security can be maximized. An IT support consultant can help in determining what is required for better connectivity and production.