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This document describes some of the concepts, vocabulary, and procedures you should understand when you use networked computers at Smith College. Understanding the difference between the Smith network, the campus backbone, and the Internet will help you use all your network services more effectively.

For specific information about logging on to the Smith network, see the Network Basics section.

Network Concepts and Vocabulary
Network Basics
Your Network Storage Space
Network Printing

Network Concepts and Vocabulary

What Is a Network, Anyway?

A network is a group of computers connected by electrical signals that are conveyed usually, but not necessarily, over a cable or wire. Smith uses Novell network software and fiber optic cables to connects the PCs, Macintosh computers, and network printers on campus to bigger machines called file servers. This document explains basic network terminology and operations.

What Is the Campus LAN?

The acronym LAN stands for Local Area Network, and is used in the technical world to refer to any networked group of machines at a single location. (Contrast this with WAN, for Wide Area Network, which usually means networks in two different cities or different parts of a city.) Here at Smith, many people refer to "the LAN" to mean our campus-wide network.

Since the campus-wide network was the only LAN at Smith for many years, this was a natural use of the term. Now, however, any one of the networked areas in the academic resource centers or administrative offices could properly be called a LAN. We now refer to the campus-wide network as the campus backbone.

What is the campus backbone? What does it connect?

The term backbone is used in the computer industry to refer to the wiring structure that is the common connecting element throughout a business or campus. If you can get to the backbone from your computer, you can get to resources that are attached to it (given the proper permission to do so via system accounts). Just as your own backbone is the common starting point for all the nerves in your body, the Smith backbone provides a common link to all the network file servers on campus.

The college backbone also provides a connection from campus machines to the Internet. If the backbone were to be cut through by an overzealous backhoe operator, all the file servers on campus would be isolated.

What do fiber optics have to do with networks?

Our backbone uses fiber optic cable. Fiber optic cable uses pulses of light to represent data, rather than changes in electrical pulse, as copper wires do. The light is reflected off the inside lining of the jacket that surrounds a fine cable and is thus propelled down its length. Because of the properties of light, the signal moves much more quickly, is not subject to weakening down the line (a problem with electromagnetic signals) and can transport many more signals at once.

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Network Basics

Logging into the Network

Before you begin using the Smith network, you should have the following information:

Your Network Settings
Initial Network Password*:

* Be sure to change your password after you first login to the network, and commit your new secure password to memory. Do not write your password here or post it near your computer. For guidelines on choosing a new secure password, see the Choosing and Changing Passwords document.

Always login to the network using your own account. Individual accounts have been created for each person in your office to ensure the security and protection of the network. The name of your account (your username) is typically the first initial of your first name and the first seven letters of your last name. To confirm your username and password, check with the User Support Center.

Windows Users: Enter Network Password

The Network Password dialog box appears when you first turn on your computer:

  1. In the User name textbox, enter your login name. Your login name usually consists of your first initial and your last name up to a total of eight characters.

  2. In the Password textbox enter your password. First time users receive their password from the User Support Center. You are given 6 grace logins with this assigned password.

  3. When you have completed these textboxes click on OK or press ENTER.

If your login is successful, the Windows desktop screen appears. If the login dialog box reappears with the statement "The password or user name you specified is not valid", do the following:

  1. Review the information entered in the username and password boxes to be sure there are no typos.

  2. Click on the Advanced button in the lower right corner of the dialog box.

  3. Check that the information in the Tree, Context, and Server fields is correct, and edit if necessary.

  4. Click OK or press the Enter key.

  5. If there is still a problem, your best bet is to start over with a new network password. Bring your Smith ID to a campus Resource Center or to the User Support Center in Stoddard 23, where you can request a new network password.

Mac Users: Logging onto the Smith Network

For Mac users at Smith, the Network Password dialog box does not appear when you first turn on your computer. On Macs, you will log on to your computer locally, then log on to the Smith network as a separate action. You can access your H:, T:, and P: drives using your Mac by connecting to your DATAVOL.

Connecting to your DATAVOL on the Smith Network

Your Network Storage Space

Now that you have access to a network, you have storage space on the network as well as on your hard drive. Storing files on the network has several advantages:

  1. Files are more secure because they can be accessed only via a password-protected network account.

  2. Files are more secure because they are backed up to tape every night.

  3. It has designated shareable space where you can exchange files with other people in your office. You can keep files in your personal storage space, where only you have access to it, or you can copy them to public areas where your coworkers can also retrieve them. There is no need to transfer files from a hard drive to a floppy to another hard drive, and no uncertainty about where the latest version may end up.

We refer to storage spaces on the network alternately as directories and drives. All space on a network file server is divided up into directories, just as you use directories on your hard disk to separate files on different subjects. For ease of use, several directories that you use frequently have been assigned letters so that you can move to a directory as if it were another drive on your local machine.

On your office network, you have access to three network directories, which have different uses as described below.

H: Your Home Directory (For Your Personal Files)

This is where you save your private files. No one else on the network can see or access the files on your H: directory. Everyone on the network has access to her own home directory; there is separate storage space for each account. You can't see or access other people's files when they are stored on their home directory. As a matter of fact, (when you are on a Windows computer) you can't even see other people's H: directories on the network. Therefore, files are even more secure than if they were on your hard drive, because only you have the password to your account and access to your home directory.

P: The Public Directory (For Sharing Files)

The root of this directory is shared by all members in the office. Any person from your office can copy files to this area, and everyone in the office can read the file, copy it, change it, or delete it. Unlike the H: area which is distinct to each account, this area is common to all.

Subdirectories may also be created under the root of the P: drive. If you are a member of a group that uses this subdirectory, you will see the sub-directory for your group listed in your P: drive directory. Not all members of your department belong to all groups.

For example, if Person X belongs only to a group called Registrar and calls a directory of the P: drive, all files in the root of P:, plus the Registrar directory (but no other subdirectory) will appear:

All members of the Registrar group can copy, delete, rename, or create files in the Registrar area; people who do not belong to this group cannot see or access these files.

The purpose of the P: directory is to allow the entire office to share documents at the root level of P: and to allow groups within the office to share documents only within their group, by using the group directories set up under P:

T: Department Dropboxes (For Exchanging Files)

The T: directory has an electronic dropbox area for each person in your office. Anyone in your office can copy a file into anyone else's T: directory. Once it has been copied there however, only the owner of the dropbox can delete, read, or copy it. You can think of a dropbox as a glass mailbox with a mail slot and a locked lid. Once you drop a letter in the mailbox, you can still see the letter from the outside, but only the person with the key can open the lid and actually read the letter or destroy it.

The purpose of your dropbox is to allow other members in the office to leave you a personal copy of a file. Anyone in your office can see the files in your dropbox (to verify that a file has been sent to a dropbox, for example), but only you can make changes to them. Once a file is in your dropbox, you have control over it. This is different than files in the public (P:) directory, which everyone can access and change

Summary: Distinct Uses For Your Network Storage Space

Consider how you can use your home directory (H:), your dropbox (T:), and your public directory (P:).

  1. You can use your home directory the way you now use your hard drive, to store files that only you need access to.

  2. Use dropboxes for personal exchanges: if you have a file, like a mailing list that someone else wants to revise for her own use, copy that file to her dropbox. Once you've put it in her dropbox, you can look in your coworker's dropbox to see that the file made it there.

  3. Use the public directory for public documents-files that a group shares or that others need access to if you are not around, such as a meeting agenda or a database of information.

Since you have shareable network space, you do not need to share your account access. If you would like assistance with organizing and using network storage effectively, consult the User Support Center at extension 4487 (4ITS).

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Network Printing

For faculty and staff, ITS has arranged for networked computers to print to particular printers according to the needs your office has specified. Networked printing offers you greater convenience in many ways:

  1. In an office with several printers, you may have a choice of printers to use.

  2. You don't have to wait for an idle printer to send your print job; the network can hold multiple jobs in a print queue and send them to print in order of receipt.

If you have any difficulty printing from your networked printer, consult the User Support Center at extension 4487 (4ITS).

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Other network-related documents that may be of interest:

Managing Files on the Smith Network
Choosing and Changing Passwords
Checking for Viruses 

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 |  Last updated February 12, 2013

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