A local area network (LAN), is a group of devices that are connected in one location. It can be a home, an office, or a building. A LAN can be either small or large. It can include a single user network or a network that has thousands of devices and users in an office or school.
LANs connect devices within a limited geographic area. In contrast, a wide area network (WAN) or metropolitan area network (MAN) covers larger geographic areas. Some WANs or MANs link many LANs together.
What’s in a LAN?
A LAN is made up of cables, access points and switches, routers and other components that allow devices to connect to other LANs through wide area networks.
Virtual LANs have also been developed due to the rise of virtualization. These allow network administrators to group nodes in their network and then partition them without having to make major infrastructure changes.
In an example, a company could have multiple departments such as administration, IT support and accounting. Each department’s computers could be logically connected with the same switch, but they could be segmented to behave like they are distinct.
A local area network (LAN) is a collection of devices connected to one another. It can be located in a house, office or building. A LAN can be a single user network, or it could include thousands of users and devices in an office or school.
LANs connect devices in a restricted geographic area.
There are generally two types of LANs, client/server LANs or peer-to-peer.
Client/server LAN is a collection of devices (the clients), connected to a central server. The server is responsible for file storage, app access, device access, network traffic, and file access. Any connected device that accesses or runs applications or the Internet can be considered a client. Clients connect to the server via cables or wireless connections.
Suites of applications can typically be stored on the LAN server. Applications running on the LAN server allow users to access databases, email and document sharing. A network administrator or IT administrator can maintain read and write access. Client/server-based networks are the most common for large businesses, government, research, education, and other organizations.
Peer-to-peer networks don’t have a central server. They are unable to handle large workloads as well as client/server LANs. They are also typically smaller. Each device participates equally in the operation of a peer to peer LAN. Each device shares data and resources via wired or wireless connections to a router or switch. Peer-to-peer networks are common in most homes.
How Does Local Area Network Work
The function of Local Area Networks is to link computers together and provide shared access to printers, files, and other services. Local area network architecture is categorized as either peer-to-peer or client-server. On a client-server local area network, multiple client-devices are connected to a central server, in which application access, device access, file storage, and network traffic are managed.
Applications running on the Local Area Network server provide services such as database access, document sharing, email, and printing. Devices on a peer-to-peer local area network share data directly to a switch or router without the use of a central server.
LANs can interconnect with other LANs via leased lines and services, or across the Internet using virtual, private network technologies. This system of connected LANs is classified as a Wide Local Area Network or a metropolitan area network. Local Area and Wide Area Networks differ in their range. An Emulated Local Area Network enables routing and data bridging an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network, which facilitates the exchange of Ethernet and token ring network data.
How to secure a local area network
Security is the most important aspect of Local Area Network problems. There are many ways to create a secure Local Area Network. One common strategy is to place a firewall behind one access point such as a wireless router. WPA (WiFi Protected Access), or WPA2 to encrypt all incoming Internet traffic is another valuable option.
Network administrators can implement specialized authentication policies to monitor and filter network traffic to prevent unauthorized access. VPNs can be used to secure specific access points. Anti-malware and antivirus software can be used to secure the internal local area network.
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