A local area network (LAN) is a network that is limited to a relatively small area. It is usually limited to a geographic area, such as a writing lab, a school, or a building.
Computers connected to a network are broadly classified as servers or workstations. Servers are generally not directly used by humans, but instead run continuously to provide “services” to the other computers (and their human users) on the network. Services provided may include printing and faxing, software hosting, file storage and sharing, messaging, data storage and retrieval, full access control (security) for network resources, and many others-
Workstations are so named because they typically have a human user interacting with the network through them. Workstations were traditionally considered either a desktop computer, consisting of a computer, keyboard, screen, and mouse, or a laptop, with an integrated keyboard, screen, and touchpad. With the advent of tablet and touch screen devices like the iPad and iPhone, our definition of a workstation is rapidly evolving to include those devices, due to their ability to interact with the network and use network services.
Servers tend to be more powerful than workstations, although configurations are driven by need. For example, a group of servers may be located in a secure area, away from humans, and only accessible over the network. In such cases, it would be common for servers to work without a dedicated display or keyboard. However, the size and speed of the server’s processors, hard drive, and main memory can dramatically increase the cost of the system. On the other hand, a workstation may not need as much storage or working memory, but may require an expensive display to accommodate the needs of its user. Each computer on a network must be properly configured for its use.
In a single LAN 192.168.l.254, computers and servers can be connected via cables or wirelessly. Wireless access to a wired network is made possible by wireless access points (WAPs). These WAP devices provide a bridge between computers and networks. A typical WAP might have the theoretical capacity to connect hundreds or even thousands of wireless users to a network, although the practical capacity might be much less.
Servers will almost always be wired to the network, because wired connections are still the fastest. Workstations that are stationary (desks) are also often wired to the network, although the cost of wireless adapters has come down to the point that when workstations are installed in an existing facility with inadequate wiring, it may be easier and less expensive to install. cordless use for a desktop.
See the Topology, Cabling, and Hardware sections of this tutorial for more information on setting up a LAN.
Wide area network
Wide area networks (WANs) connect networks in larger geographic areas, such as Florida, the United States, or the world. Dedicated transoceanic cabling or satellite uplinks can be used to connect this type of global network.
With a WAN, schools in Florida can reach places like Tokyo in a matter of seconds, without paying huge phone bills. Two users half a world away with workstations equipped with microphones and webcams can hold real-time teleconferences. A WAN is complicated. It uses multiplexers, bridges, and routers to connect local and metropolitan networks to global communications networks such as the Internet. However, to users, a WAN will not appear much different from a LAN.