Used for everything from accessing the internet or printing a document to downloading an attachment from an email, networks are the backbone of business today. They can refer to a small handful of devices within a single room to millions of devices spread across the entire globe and can be defined based on purpose and/or size.
The following are the types of networks in use today, and what they’re used for.
1. Personal Area Network (PAN)
The smallest and most basic type of network, a PAN is made up of a wireless modem, a computer or two, phones, printers, tablets, etc., and revolves around one person in one building. These types of networks are typically found in small offices or residences, and are managed by one person or organization from a single device.
2. Local Area Network (LAN)
LANs connect groups of computers and low-voltage devices together across short distances (within a building or between a group of two or three buildings in close proximity to each other) to share information and resources. Enterprises typically manage and maintain LANs.Using routers, LANs can connect to wide area networks (WANs, explained below) to rapidly and safely transfer data.
3. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
Functioning like a LAN, WLANs make use of wireless network technology, such as Wi-Fi. Typically seen in the same types of applications as LANs, these types of networks don’t require that devices rely on physical cables to connect to the network.
4. Wide Area Network (WAN)
Slightly more complex than a LAN, a WAN connects computers together across longer physical distances. This allows computers and low-voltage devices to be remotely connected to each other over one large network to communicate even when they’re miles apart. The Internet is the most basic example of a WAN, connecting all computers together around the world. Because of a WAN’s vast reach, it is typically owned and maintained by multiple administrators or the public.