What Is the Purpose of a Network Operating System?

The purpose of a network operating system is to support workstations, data sharing, application sharing, file sharing and printer access sharing among multiple computers in a network. A network operating system is used to run computers that act as servers.

Network operating systems enable servers to manage data, security, applications and user groups. Some of the features of a networking operating system include security features such as authorizations, restrictions and access control; file features such as printing and web service; basic operating system supports such as processor support, multiprocessing support for applications, hardware detection and protocol support; and user management features.

Common tasks associated with a network operating system include user administration, security monitoring on all resources in the network, system maintenance activities and tasks associated with file management.

There are two major network operating systems: peer-to-peer and client/server. Peer-to-peer network operating systems allow users to share resources and files located on their computers as well as access shared resources from other computers. This network operating system is easy to setup and requires less hardware. The client/ server network operating systems allow the network to centralize functions and applications in one or more dedicated file servers. The file servers become the hub of the system, allowing access to resources and providing security. The system provides the mechanism to merge all the components on a network to allow multiple users to share the same resources at the same time, regardless of physical location.