Local Area Network

A local area network, or LAN, consists of a computer network at a single site, typically an individual office building. A LAN is very useful for sharing resources, such as data storage and printers. LANs can be built with relatively inexpensive hardware, such as hubs, network adapters and Ethernet cables.

The smallest LAN may only use two computers, while larger LANs can accommodate thousands of computers. A LAN typically relies mostly on wired connections for increased speed and security, but wireless connections can also be part of a LAN. High speed and relatively low cost are the defining characteristics of LANs.

LANs are typically used for single sites where people need to share resources among themselves but not with the rest of the outside world. Think of an office building where everybody should be able to access files on a central server or be able to print a document to one or more central printers. Those tasks should be easy for everybody working in the same office, but you would not want somebody just walking outside to be able to send a document to the printer from their cell phone! If a local area network, or LAN, is entirely wireless, it is referred to as a wireless local area network, or WLAN.

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