Types of networks: Main 5 types of computer networks

A network is defined as a group of two or more computer systems linked together.

There are many types of computer networks, the common types of area networks including those five: LAN – Local Area Network, WAN – Wide Area Network, WLAN – Wireless Local Area Network, MAN – Metropolitan Area Network and CAN – Campus Area Network.

LAN (Local Area Network) – Can go up to 1 KM radius. A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and associated devices that share a common communications line or wireless link to a server. Typically, a LAN encompasses computers and peripherals connected to a server within a distinct geographic area such as an office or a commercial establishment.

WAN (Wide Area Network) – No Limit. A wide area network (WAN) is a network that exists over a large-scale geographical area. A WAN connects different smaller networks, including local area networks (LANs) and metro area networks (MANs). This ensures that computers and users in one location can communicate with computers and users in other locations. WAN implementation can be done either with the help of the public transmission system or a private network.

WLAN(Wireless Local Area Network) – A wireless local area network (WLAN) is a wireless computer network that links two or more devices using wireless communication within a limited area such as a home, school, computer laboratory, or office building. This gives users the ability to move around within a local coverage area and yet still be connected to the network. Through a gateway, a WLAN can also provide a connection to the wider Internet.

Most modern WLANs are based on IEEE 802.11 standards and are marketed under the Wi-Fi brand name.

MAN(Metropolitan Area Network) – A metropolitan area network is a computer network that interconnects users with computer resources in a geographic area or region larger than that covered by even a large local area network (LAN) but smaller than the area covered by a wide area network (WAN). The term is applied to the interconnection of networks in a city into a single larger network (which may then also offer efficient connection to a wide area network). It is also used to mean the interconnection of several local area networks by bridging them with backbone lines. The latter usage is also sometimes referred to as a campus network.

CAN (Campus Area Network) – A campus area network is a computer network made up of an interconnection of local area networks (LANs) within a limited geographical area. The networking equipments (switches, routers) and transmission media (optical fiber, copper plant, Cat5 cabling etc) are almost entirely owned by the campus tenant / owner: an enterprise, university, government etc.

In addition to these five items, there are some other types of networking:

SAN ( Storage Area Network or System Area Network) – For storage area network, as a dedicated high-speed network that connects shared pools of storage devices to several servers, these types of networks don’t rely on a LAN or WAN. Instead, they move storage resources away from the network and place them into their own high-performance network. SANs can be accessed in the same fashion as a drive attached to a server. Types of storage-area networks include converged, virtual and unified SANs.

Then for system area network, it is used to explain a relatively local network that is designed to provide high-speed connection in server-to-server applications (cluster environments), storage area networks (called “SANs” as well) and processor-to-processor applications. The computers connected on a SAN operate as a single system at very high speeds.

PAN ( Personal Area Network) – 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.

POLAN (Passive Optical Local Area Network) – As an alternative to traditional switch-based Ethernet LANs, POLAN technology can be integrated into structured cabling to overcome concerns about supporting traditional Ethernet protocols and network applications such as PoE (Power over Ethernet). A point-to-multipoint LAN architecture, POLAN uses optical splitters to split an optical signal from one strand of single-mode optical fiber into multiple signals to serve users and devices.

EPN (Enterprise Private Network) – These types of networks are built and owned by businesses that want to securely connect its various locations to share computer resources.

VPN(Virtual Private Network) – A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running across the VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network.

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