The Internet is a platform made up of many sectors, characteristics and technologies that make it possible for us to navigate, visit pages, services and be in contact with other users. However, keep in mind that there are different types of networks. We are going to talk about it in this article. We are going to explain what types of computer networks we can find and what are the main characteristics of each one of them.
What is a computer network
First of all, we want to explain what a computer network is. We can say that a computer network is a set of systems that are connected to each other. They are teams that together create that network and allow, through transmission media and communication devices, to connect to the Internet.
A computer network will allow users to easily communicate through tools such as email or messaging applications, for example. We can also share hardware that is within that network. For example, we are talking about a printer that we can access from other devices.
In addition, a computer network allows the distribution of data and information. We can access data and information stored on that network.
Now, as we have mentioned there are different types of computer networks. Some are part of our day to day, while others are less usual or known. Let’s talk about all of them. We will explain what characteristics each one has and, ultimately, what they can be used for.
What types of computer networks are there?
The LAN (or local area network) is the most common, and we all have in our homes. It is that network that covers a reduced area, such as a house, a store, a building, etc.
The main characteristic of LAN networks is that the computers are connected via cable. As we know routers have a series of LAN ports where we can connect computers, for example. We can also connect printers, NAS servers and any other compatible device.
Each of the devices that are connected to that LAN is called nodes. These nodes can access the data and resources that these computers have between them.
Its operation is very similar to the previous one, but in this case, it has the characteristic of being wireless. WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network.
Today WLAN networks have gained much weight compared to LAN networks. More and more devices are connected wirelessly. This logically brings advantages, although it also has its drawbacks such as loss of quality with distance.
To function, they use radio waves. In this way, they can carry the information from one point to another. You need a router that is connected to the Internet, and in turn, this device is the one that provides wireless connectivity to the rest.
As in the previous case, this type of network is in very specific and small areas, such as a home.
Another type is MAN networks. It is surely more unknown to users compared to the previous two. It is a metropolitan area network. It covers a much larger area. They are designed to offer coverage to a large geographic area.
A MAN network is used, for example, in a group of offices or buildings that are located close to each other. It can be a geographic area of a municipality.
The WANs cover a larger area. It is the union of several local networks, without the need for all the devices to be in the same physical location. They can be for private use in companies or organizations, as well as installed by the network providers themselves.
Ultimately, WAN networks can span a larger area. The devices do not have to be in the same geographic region.
The case of CAN networks is also different. Of course, we can say that it is in an intermediate situation between a LAN and a MAN. It is not as small as the first, but neither is it as large as the second.
CAN networks are often used on university campuses, for example. Also, in companies with a similar structure. What it does is connect local area networks within a limited geographic area.
The PAN networks or personal area network is a network used in a workplace for personal use. For example, in an office or home. It is therefore limited to a specific space.
Keep in mind that PAN networks can work both through cables and wirelessly. It is, definitely, a different case from the previous ones.