Characteristics of Network Operating Systems

By Nick Davis

The control program of any home or corporate computer network, a network operating system (NOS) controls the utilities, users, and devices that make up a network. The NOS is similar to a computer operating system like Windows and Linux but contains an array of utilities and programs that ensure data is transmitting to the correct user, computer, and other devices. Network operating systems contain common characteristics, no matter what platform the operating system is running on.

Provides Support

The first characteristic of network operating systems is the support component. Network operating systems provide support for the multiple processors, applications, and hardware devices that make up a network. The systems support the users accessing the network as well as process requests for specific documents and usage of hardware. NOSs also provide protocol requests from users, including Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and other protocols.

Controls Security

The second characteristic of network operating systems is the security component. NOSs manage the authorization and authentication of users, computer workstations, and other devices accessing a network. If an intruder tries to access a network, the NOS blocks the unauthorized user/computer and logs the intrusion attempt within its log files. The NOS also manages software and hardware installations to keep users from installing unauthorized software and devices.

User Setup

The third characteristic of network operating systems is the user setup component. Network operating systems create user accounts and manage the users logging into and out of the network. The systems also manage what file and directory services a specific user has access to, users accessing the network remotely, and how the network's graphical interface looks to specific users.

Printing and File Services

The fourth characteristic of network operating systems is the printing and file services component. Like other operating systems, network operating systems manage all printing, storage, backup, and duplication services for computers and users accessing a network. The systems also control access to the Internet, local-area (LAN) and wide-area networks (WAN), port routing, and internal web services known as Intranet. An NOS filters documents and files through the printing/file services immediately. More than one user can send documents and files through the network for printing, backing up, or other types of processing.

Email Services

The last characteristic of network operating systems is the email component. An NOS manages electronic mail, also known as email, for the entire network, including users accessing the NOS remotely and from the Internet. The NOS blocks SPAM and other problematic emails and sends/receives email, as well as lets users create additional email accounts.