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Local Area Network

What is a local area network?

A local area network (LAN) is a type of small scale network. A network is a system that links two or more computers. Once the computers establish standards or protocols on which they will work together, they are able to exchange information with one another. All networks vary in size. LAN stands out from the rest of the network types in that it connects a group of computers in close proximity to each other. 

What does it look like?

Below is a diagram displaying what a local area network may look like. It consists of several computers on one network. A LAN network is typical for use in a home, school, or office building. It is useful for sharing resources such as files, printers, or other applications.

The small unlabeled box that is connecting all the objects is what allows the computers to share their information. It can be a hub, network adapters, or a type of Ethernet cable, which is becoming the most popular LAN device. 

How does LAN compare to WAN?

WAN stands for wide area network. One difference between the two that can be determined simply by their title is that a wide area network reaches over a large geographic area, such as a state or even country; whereas a local area network has a much smaller geographic span.

The number of computers connecting to a network and their geographic location also affects the transfer-rate of files among the computers. If the computers are more spread out, files will take a longer time to travel along the network. If there is a much larger number of computers, files will also take longer to travel along a network because of limited bandwidth, which can be adjusted by different Ethernet cables or hubs. However, some WANs may have limited computers connected. For example, they may be connecting the databases of two country clubs in different locations. Overall, a LAN has the ability to transfer information at a much faster rate than a WAN. 

What is Ethernet and what does it have to do with LAN?

This is a data link technology specifically designed for LANS. It makes it possible for computers connected on LAN to share information with one another. Ethernet devices were first introduced in 1970s and at that time were only able to transfer files at a rate about 10 megabits per second (mpg). Today, much higher speeds are trying to be reached. Ethernets also have the ability to allocate a certain amount of bandwidth to certain computers if desired. Below are some examples of an Ethernet box and Ethernet cable.