Definition

local area network (LAN)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Essential guide to business continuity and disaster recovery plans
Contributor(s): Diana Hwang

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. Computers and other mobile devices use a LAN connection to share resources such as a printer or network storage.

A local area network may serve as few as two or three users (for example, in a small-office network) or several hundred users in a larger office. LAN networking comprises cables, switches, routers and other components that let users connect to internal servers, websites and other LANs via wide area networks.

Ethernet and Wi-Fi are the two primary ways to enable LAN connections. Ethernet is a specification that enables computers to communicate with each other. Wi-Fi uses radio waves to connect computers to the LAN. Other LAN technologies, including Token RingFiber Distributed Data Interface and ARCNET, have lost favor as Ethernet and Wi-Fi speeds have increased. The rise of virtualization has fueled the development of virtual LANs, which allows network administrators to logically group network nodes and partition their networks without the need for major infrastructure changes.

how a local area network works

Typically, a suite of application programs can be kept on the LAN server. Users who need an application frequently can download it once and then run it from their local device. Users can order printing and other services as needed through applications run on the LAN server. A user can share files with others stored on the LAN server; read and write access is maintained by a network administrator. A LAN server may also be used as a web server if safeguards are taken to secure internal applications and data from outside access.

In some situations, a wireless LAN, or Wi-Fi, may be preferable to a wired LAN connection because of its flexibility and cost. Companies are assessing WLANs as primary means of connectivity as the number of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices proliferates.

This was last updated in June 2016

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I get so much information LAN, WAN, firewall etc. can easily to under stand process.
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Local area networking chering the information by the groupe who from in side the some area
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Well, not anytime in the near future, no. In our buildings we have a noticeable decrease in performance when using wireless as compared to a wired connection. It is also less reliable, sometimes dropping connections. When I'm working on site, I definitely prefer to have an ethernet connection. Then there's the quirks of the wireless adapter in my laptop - it doesn't want to connect to the wireless LAN for 5-10 minutes. Such a pain!
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Eventually - I would expect that in a decade the percentage of wired will be confined to dedicated systems and the core data center but that the preponderance of clients is all wireless.  And the nature of wireless will have changed from WiFi to LiFi as a generation of lighting gets changed out and rapid pulsed LED systems replace conventional building lighting.

For the near term - next 5 years - I see all mobile clients moving to WiFi - while desktops remain wired.
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Not unless/until the throughput and signal challenges improve. I've experienced the slowness/frustration of 2.4GHz wireless and have since moved on to 5GHz. The latter is *much* faster but the signal propagation stinks. Neither are anywhere near Gigabit Ethernet in terms of speed and reliability.
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For the most part, it already has. Both in our main office and on our short-term locations (where most of our work takes place), most of our desks survive on wireless.

I say that without any great joy - too many others have already noted that wireless is quirky and far less than dependable. But there it is and it (mostly) works. And, for our needs, it (mostly) serves its purpose.

OTOH, we would love to be entirely wireless. We need that kind of  flexibility and instant setup in our work. At this point we can get by if we must, but we're still looking for the next generation that will make wireless much faster, more consistent and highly efficient.
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LAN is a Computer network that spans over a small area. it connects computer and workstation to share data and resources such as printers or faxes. LAN is restricted to a small area such as home, office or collage
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Having been trying to run this networking as a manager but don't seem to understand or get in touch with the procedures... I mean what are the requirements?
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I'm all about a clean office, don't really like cable connections. If only this Wi-Fi tech would be improved for more efficiency, it would greatly help.
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is it true that an institute like Makerere university can have all it's departments and faculties through LAN?
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A local-area network (LAN) is a computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most often, a LAN is confined to a single room, building or group of buildings, however, one LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves.
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Do you think wireless LANs will replace Ethernet for your organization?
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No. Far too many companies do not want to have deal with added security issues of Wireless Networks.
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