Information. It is the one true universal currency we all carry with us every day. Thanks to how computer systems network together, we can share the information we have with others. We can gain new knowledge whenever we are connected. Whether it is a wired connection, Bluetooth, or a Wi-Fi link, computer networking has allowed us to have access to more information than ever before in human history.
Although there are many advantages to computer networking, there are disadvantages which must be considered as well. It creates a lifestyle which is dependent upon technology to gather the information we need to create the lives we want. If something goes wrong with the computer network, then we become isolated and this action could cause great harm to someone who is unprepared for it.
Here are some of the other advantages and disadvantages of computer networking to consider.
What Are the Advantages of Computer Networking?
1. People can share information freely.
Computer networking allows individuals and businesses to share information freely with one another. This information can be in several different formats. From files to emails, or blog posts to instant messaging, this process saves people time and monetary resources in the passing of information. Imagine the difference of sending a letter through a postal service to sending the same letter through email and that is the advantage a computer network provides.
2. It allows for frequent collaboration.
Computer networks allow multiple people to be logged into the same platform at once. They may be in several different locations around the world, but each person can log into their profile and access documents or files, at their convenience, to work on them. The modern computer network allows for global collaboration for teams of any size.
3. The cost of joining a computer network is going down.
In 1984, the cost of a Tandy 1000 was $1,200. This was one of the first PC clone computers that was intended to be a cost-effective solution for home computing and word processing. Although it did not have internet access, it did allow for computer networks to form. In 2017, the price of a Chromebook is less than $200 and does allow internet access and traditional computer networks.
4. Computer networking data can be stored off-line.
With the numerous threats to computer systems, the internet, and technology structures, there is a need to store information off-line to protect it from those who want it. Computer networks can be connected through the internet, via a virtual private network, or kept completely off-line to protect the system. The data collected, even if it is gathered online, can be stored off-line to protect it as well.
5. Anyone can connect to a computer network.
There is a minimal skill set required to connect to a modern computer network. If you know how to turn a computer on and then click on the appropriate prompts or shortcuts, then it is possible to join a computer network. The simplicity of joining makes it possible for even young children to begin taking advantage of the information access that computers provide.
6. Computer connections can be personalized.
The modern computer network isn’t an all-or-nothing system. Access authority can be included with a network so that individuals can access the specific information they need, but don’t need to sort through information they don’t need. This can enhance employer security, reduce the chances of fraud, while still providing tools that lead to increased productivity.
What Are the Disadvantages of Computer Networking?
1. It requires a certain wealth to join a computer network.
In 2005, the International Telecommunications Union estimated that 51% of users in the developed world were connected to computer networks, but just 8% of users in the developing world could claim the same status. As of 2016, those figures have risen to 81% and 40% respectively. Although there have been increases to internet use and computer networking in the developing world, most people still lack consistent access to the information that is widely shared every day.
2. Disruptions can occur frequently.
Cyberattacks on computer networks in 2017, referred to as “ransomware,” allow a small group of individuals to affect the computer networking access of a society. By encrypting compute files for small ransom amounts, these attacks create a disruption to the networks that disrupt businesses and individual lives. Viruses and other forms of corruption can be equally disruptive. No computer network is 100% safe from these threats, so proactive interventions must be taken to preserve information access.
3. Computer networking can be addictive.
CNN reports that half of all teens in the United States feel like they are addicted to their phones. The average person checks their cell phone over 100 times per day. Being consistently connected to information and computer networks requires a commitment to consume the data that is provided. We have access to more data than ever before, but this also means we are taking less time to relax and unplug from our networks more than ever before. The American Psychological Association reports that 44% of US workers even check on work emails while on vacation.
4. Information availability isn’t always a good thing.
Online identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world today. In 2016, data on 15.4 million consumers was stolen to create losses of $16 billion. From 2010-2016, more than $100 billion in losses occurred. Since 2014, identity theft complaints have risen by 47%. The Insurance Information Institute reports that government documents and benefits fraud is the most common form of this data misuse. As computer networks continue to grow, the chances of having data compromised will grow at the same time.
5. There is little policing on a computer network.
Not all file sharing that occurs through computer networks is illegal. Piracy is a real threat to the well-being of numerous businesses and individuals. According to information provided by Freakonomics, the cost of online piracy for the economy is up to $250 billion per year. Direct losses in the US are above $8 billion, according to statistics provided by NBC News. Although some see it as a victimless crime, those that produce content and hold rights to it do not receive compensation from pirated sharing. Little policing is available on computer networks, however, and what is present is often focused on protecting the physical safety of others.
The advantages and disadvantages of computer networking show us that free-flowing information helps a society to grow. Assuming that proactive systems are developed and installed to counter the effects of the potential disadvantages, a computer network, at any level of connectivity, will help every society come closer to its full potential.