There are several types of computer networks, these network types are organized according to the area they cover.
PAN stands for Personal Area Network and, as the name suggests, it is a very small network comprising of interconnected devices directly within a person’s personal space. These types of networks can be in very small offices or homes and an example of one would be having your Wireless earphones and smartwatch connected to your mobile phone, which is in turn connected to your wireless router in your living room, while the tablet in your hands is also connected to the wireless router.
LAN and WLAN
LANs and WLANs are two of the most common network types. LAN stands for Local Area Network, and WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network. A LAN is a simple network configuration that connects a series of computers and devices together over a short area such as on the same floor or in the same building. A LAN does not need to be connected to the internet for the computers on its network to be able to communicate.
A WLAN is a wireless version of the LAN and works in much the same way but utilizing wireless technology instead.
LANs and WLANs can be connected to WANs through the use of routers. WANs are explained further below.
WAN stands for Wide Area Network and connects computers and devices over a much larger area than a LAN or WLAN. Computers can share resources and connect remotely even despite miles of distance between them. WANs are so large they typically require multiple administrators, and people can connect their computers or even whole LANs to them through the use of routers and modems. An example of a WAN is the internet.
MAN stands for Metropolitan Area Network and, as the name suggests, this type of network covers an entire geographical area such as a town, city, or campus. MANs are larger than LANs and smaller than WANs but use structure from both to function properly.
SAN stands for Storage Area Network and is essentially a network of storage devices that can be accessed by other machines in order to utilize the combined storage as a whole. This type of setup ensures higher performance speeds due to the fact that the storage is essentially removed from the general network into its own high speed network or subnet. Another benefit of SANs is the ease of which they can be scaled as it is simply a matter of connecting more storage into the SAN to increase the pool of storage that can then be centrally managed.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it is different to the other network types in the sense that a VPN is essentially an extension of an existing private network, over varying means of distance, utilizing public infrastructure in a secure manner to ensure the privacy of the communications. A common use of a VPN is for employees to be able to work from home. There can be a VPN client on the employee’s laptop that, when ran, will connect back to the VPN server that resides inside the company’s private network. It will setup a secure connection through insecure public infrastructure and the employee will then be able to interact with the main business LAN as if they were on-site and directly connected to the LAN.