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network computer

A computer with minimal memory, disk storage and processor power designed to connect to a network, especially the Internet. The idea behind network computers is that many users who are connected to a network don't need all the computer power they get from a typical personal computer. Instead, they can rely on the power of the network servers.

This is really a variation on an old idea -- diskless workstations -- which are computers that contain memory and a processor but no disk storage. Instead, they rely on a server to store data. Network computers take this idea one step further by also minimizing the amount of memory and processor power required by the workstation. Network computers designed to connect to the Internet are sometimes called Internet boxes, Net PCs, and Internet appliances.

One of the strongest arguments behind network computers is that they reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO)-- not only because the machines themselves are less expensive than PCs, but also because network computers can be administered and updated from a central network server.

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