Networking - Internal Network Glossary

The following information can assist your certified local network technician to configure your office's network to function with MacPractice.

Due to the unique needs of each office, MacPractice support cannot assist with configuring your office's Internal Network.

This information was created with general recommendations and cannot replace the instruction or expertise of a qualified Network Administrator.

AppleTalk: AppleTalk, also known as LocalTalk, is an older network protocol developed by Apple as one of the earliest zero-configuration methods for network computers and printers. AppleTalk is still widely used for printing and file sharing and is a necessity for users of the MacHealth Software, such as MediMac, DentalMac, and ChiroMac.

DHCP: Most computers are set up to access a network using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) by default. DHCP assigns a computer the first IP address made available by the router. This means the IP address can change when the computer or networking equipment is restarted. Since the IP address is used to direct information over the network, changing the IP address can disrupt network communication.

  • The DHCP Server can be configured to distribute a range of LAN addresses. For example, the range might be - The first device joining the network will receive, the next device will receive, and so on. If the device is restarted, it's DHCP Configuration will change, and the IP address may be assigned as
  • A MacPractice terminal accesses the database using the MacPractice Server IP address. If the Server's IP address has changed, the terminal will not find the database to log in. Setting up a static IP address avoids this issue.
DNS: All computers connected to the internet have an IP Address in order for the computer to find the defined location. DNS translates IP address numbers into names for human usability, then back into numbers for computer usability. For example, is also Every ISP maintains servers dedicated for their customers. DNS Servers around the world communicate constantly to assure accuracy and most cache a huge amount of information for immediate retrieval.
Firewall: A firewall is a device or router that prevents the flow of incoming or outgoing data to a network. Firewalls can be configured to allow only certain types of network traffic, such as blocking instant messaging while allowing Internet usage.
IP Address: An IP address identifies a computer on a network. The two kinds of IP addresses are Local (Internal) and Global (External or Real-World). A Local IP identifies your computer on an Internal Network. A Global IP identifies a computer across the Internet. Most computers on an Internal Network will have individual Local IPs, but the Internal Network as a whole will share one Global IP.
  • An IP Address, using IPv4, consists of segments called octets; each octet will be between zero and 255, which means there are over 4.2 billion IP Addresses available. An example of a typical IPv4 IP Address would be
  • Although there are billions of available IP addresses, it is impractical for every computer user on the internet to have one public IP Address. Instead, certain ranges of IP addresses are reserved for Private use:,,
  • Private IP addresses are the addresses used by a router to define a home or office LAN.
  • An ISP will provide a home or office router a single public IP Address and the router will create a subnet using a range of private IP Addresses, which will be shared with devices as needed. Additional IP Addresses can be purchased.
  • IPV6 was introduced in June 2012 as the planned successor to IPv4. At this time it is not suggested by MacPractice.
ISP: An Internet Service Provider is a company that provides internet access to a home or office.
LAN: The Local Area Network(LAN) is the smaller, localized branch of a network. For an example, an office network, a home network, or a separate department of a large corporation may connect to a LAN.
Router: The Router defines the Local Area Network (LAN) and provides Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) to devices. When a network configuration requests a Router or Gateway Address, it asks for the IP Address of the device that defines the Local Area Network. The router also directs the devices outside the LAN, such as directing a device to a website.
Subnet: A Subnet is a smaller branch of a larger network that helps organize or isolate computers. Companies may divide certain departments into subnets. For example, an Accounting department may have different security needs than the Sales department; the use of subnets allows for a wide range of security configuration that can be customized for each department. Further, a home or office network is actually a subnet of your ISP's network.
Subnet Mask: Defines the size or scope of the subnet. A device requests the range o the local network as it joins; the Subnet Mask defines this range. For example, the Subnet of with a subnet mask of allows for the use of through; a segment value of 255 will lock out that segment. Referring to the example above, 192 & 168 & 1 have all been locked by the mask's values of 255 & 255 & 255; the last segment has the value of zero, which allows for full use of the range of 1 - 255.

WAN: The Wide Area Network is the larger network beyond your Local Area Network. For an example, an ISP's network, a large corporation's infrastructure, and even the Internet itself are a WAN.
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