Computer Network | LAN, WAN, WLAN, MAN, SAN, PAN, HAN, CAN, VPN

What is Computer Network? Computer networks are interconnected systems that allow computers and other devices to communicate, share resources, and exchange information. These networks come in various types, each suited for specific purposes and scales. Here are some common types of computer networks: Types or Categories of Computer Networks Computer networks are classified according to […]

What is Computer Network?

Computer networks are interconnected systems that allow computers and other devices to communicate, share resources, and exchange information. These networks come in various types, each suited for specific purposes and scales. Here are some common types of computer networks:

Types or Categories of Computer Networks

Computer networks are classified according to organizational structure, usage patterns, and operational coverage. These encompass:

  1. Local Area Network (LAN)

A LAN is a network that spans a relatively small geographic area, such as a single building, office, or campus. LANs are typically used to connect devices like computers, printers, and servers. Ethernet cables or wireless connections are commonly used to establish LANs.

  1. Wide Area Network (WAN)

WANs cover larger geographical areas, often connecting LANs across cities, countries, or continents. The internet is the most well-known example of a WAN. WANs use routers, switches, and communication lines like leased lines, fiber optics, and satellite links to connect distant locations.

  1. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

MANs are larger than LANs but smaller than WANs, covering a city or a metropolitan area. They are often used by organizations that need to connect multiple offices within a city.

  1. Campus Area Network (CAN)

CANs are networks that cover a campus or a large university. They provide connectivity between various departments and buildings on the campus.

  1. Personal Area Network (PAN)

A PAN is the smallest type of network, typically connecting devices within a short range, like personal devices (e.g., smartphones, laptops, and tablets) using technologies such as Bluetooth or infrared.

  1. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)

A WLAN is a type of LAN that uses wireless technology (such as Wi-Fi) to connect devices within a specific area, eliminating the need for physical cables.

  1. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN is a network that creates a secure and encrypted connection over a public network (usually the internet). It allows remote users to access a private network as if they were directly connected to it, ensuring data privacy and security.

  1. Intranet

An intranet is a private network that functions similarly to the internet but is restricted to a specific organization. It enables employees to share resources, collaborate, and communicate within the organization.

  1. Extranet

An extranet is an extension of an intranet that allows authorized external users, such as partners, suppliers, and clients, to access certain parts of an organization’s internal network.

  1. Client-Server Network

In this network model, one or more powerful servers provide services and resources to client devices. Clients request and use services, while servers manage and deliver those services.

  1. Peer-to-Peer Network (P2P)

In a P2P network, devices, or nodes, communicate directly with one another without relying on a central server. P2P networks are often used for sharing files and resources between users.

  1. Cloud Network

Cloud networks leverage cloud computing services to deliver resources and services over the internet. Users can access applications and store data remotely, without the need for local infrastructure.

  1. Industrial Control System (ICS) Network

These networks are used in industrial environments to connect and control machinery, equipment, and processes. They are essential in sectors such as manufacturing, energy, and transportation.

  1. Sensor Networks

Sensor networks consist of interconnected sensors that gather and transmit data from the environment. They are used in applications like environmental monitoring, healthcare, and home automation.

  1. Home Area Network (HAN)

HANs are designed to connect devices within a household. Smart devices like thermostats, lights, and appliances can be part of a HAN, allowing remote control and automation.

  1. Storage Area Network (SAN)

A SAN is a high-speed network dedicated to connecting storage devices, such as disk arrays and tape libraries, to servers. SANs are commonly used to enhance storage capacity and performance in data centers.

  1. Overlay Network

An overlay network is created on top of an existing network infrastructure to provide additional functionality or features. Virtual private networks (VPNs) and content delivery networks (CDNs) are examples of overlay networks.

  1. Global Area Network (GAN)

GANs connect multiple networks across the world, often using satellite and terrestrial wireless communication. They are used for global communication and coordination in sectors like military and international organizations.

  1. Enterprise Private Network

This type of network is established within an organization and is designed to facilitate secure communication and data sharing among its various branches, departments, and offices.

  1. Cellular Network

Cellular networks provide wireless communication for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. These networks use a system of cell towers to provide coverage and allow users to access voice and data services.

  1. Satellite Network

Satellite networks use communication satellites to transmit signals between ground stations and satellite dishes. They are used for various purposes, including television broadcasting, internet access, and global positioning systems (GPS).

  1. Municipal Area Network (MANet)

A MANet is a network that covers a specific area within a city or municipality, often providing free public Wi-Fi access to residents and visitors.

  1. Hybrid Network

A hybrid network combines different types of networks, such as LANs, WANs, and cloud services, to create a unified and versatile communication infrastructure.

  1. Mesh Network

A mesh network consists of interconnected nodes, where each node can communicate with several other nodes directly. Mesh networks are highly resilient and self-healing, making them suitable for scenarios where network reliability is crucial.

  1. Blockchain Network

Blockchain networks are decentralized and distributed ledgers that use cryptographic techniques to secure transactions and information. They have applications in secure data sharing, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts.

These are examples of the many types of computer networks that exist. The choice of network type depends on factors like the geographical scope, connectivity requirements, security needs, and the purpose of the network.


Workstation/Client: Each computer within a network is commonly referred to as a workstation or client. Clients are the machines capable of accessing shared network resources made available by a server.

Server: A server offers shared resources and data across a network. It typically entails a high-performance microcomputer with multiple drives, often possessing substantial storage capacity and potentially a few CD-ROM drives. Servers permit all microcomputers to access an external network through the network communication system.

Media: The interconnection of computers relies on hardware components such as cables (UTP, STP, coaxial, and fiber optics).

User: An individual who employs a client to access network resources.

Resources: These encompass files, printers, modems, or other items employable by network users. Resources can manifest as hardware or software entities.

Protocol: Protocols denote prescribed rules employed for communication. They represent the language computers employ to interact within a network, examples being TCP/IP and AppleTalk.

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