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Local Area Network (LAN)

A collection of computers and associated devices that share a common communications line or wireless link is known as a Local Area Network (LAN). In most situations, the connected computers and devices share the resources of a server or processor within a limited physical area (i.e. an office building). In most configurations, multiple computer users access the server to utilize applications, data storage, and file sharing.

Businesses typically use the LAN server to store common application programs which its users then download onto their assigned computer’s hard drive, or to allow shared access to printers and other devices or services. Users may share files with others at the LAN server, with read and write access granted by a LAN administrator. And if safeguards are in place to secure internal applications and data from outside access, a LAN server can be used as an organization’s Web server as wwll.

Depending on the circumstances, a wireless LAN may be chosen over a hard-wired LAN due to the decreased costs to install and maintain the wireless solution.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

A Wide Area Network (WAN) is the opposite of a Local Area Network (LAN), in that it is a geographically dispersed telecommunications network. The term defines a much broader and complex telecom structure than a LAN. A WAN is likely privately owned or rented, but the term WAN typically indicates that public or shared user networks are included.