Simply put, a local network (LAN from Local Area Network) is a group of computers and other devices that are connected to a network and located in the same location - usually inside a building (office or home).
What is LAN?
The name of the network tells us two different properties: We talk about a local network connecting multiple devices. Local on some impacts may change, as we will see below, to distinguish other types of networks. There are, say, Wide Area Networks or WAN and metropolitan area networks (MAN from Metropolitan Area Networks).
Networks are usually limited to a small area, usually a building, but it is not necessary. This site may be your home or business, but it will be a much larger area, such as an entire office building containing hundreds or thousands of devices.
But regardless of size, the main feature of a LAN is that it connects devices that are in a limited area.
The advantages of using a local LAN are known: devices can share a single Internet connection, share files with each other, print to shared printers, and more.
In larger LANs, there are specialized servers for email, storage, and access to other business resources.
What kind of technologies are used in a local area network?
The technologies used in a LAN network depend on the number of devices that exist and the services provided on the network. The two main types of connection used in modern LAN networks (regardless of size) are Ethernet cables and Wi-Fi.
In a typical LAN at home or in the office, you will find a modem that gives you an internet connection, and a router that allows other devices to share and connect to each other. There is also a Wi-Fi access point that allows devices to have wireless access to the network.
Sometimes, the functions are performed by a single device. Many providers, for example, have a free connection with each new connection, a device that includes the modem, and the router, which can be used both as a firewall and as a Wi-Fi access point. There are also switches that allow you to deploy an Ethernet connection to many connection points.
In larger LANs, there are about the same devices but they are much more powerful. Professional routers and switches can serve much more simultaneous connections than do the corresponding devices in our home. They also provide more security and tracking options.
What are WAN and MAN networks?
Wide Area Networks (WANs) and metropolitan networks from Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) are very similar. There are Campus Area Networks (CANs) networks, but they are not often reported. All of these networks are essentially networks that connect multiple LANs together.
A MAN network, for example, consists of too many LANs connected to each other over high-speed networks and located in the same city. A WAN network also consists of many LAN networks, but extends to an area larger than an individual city and can be connected to different types of technologies. The CAN network also consists of too many LANs within a campus.
Let's give a classic example of WAN: Think of a company that has branches in three different locations throughout the country (or in the world). Each branch has its own local network. These LANs are connected together in a network through specialized, private connections, or perhaps via the Internet. Please note that LAN connections are not as fast, reliable, or secure as the connections between devices on the same (local) network.
We can call the internet as the world's largest WAN, since it connects thousands of LANs around the world.