The businesses of today rely on integrated computer systems to communicate and transfer data for efficient task completion. Without an overarching network connecting each device, users could never navigate complex information across multiple locations. Computer networks are especially important when working with multiple devices in multiple locations.
Say you’re in charge of operations for your business and need to install a computer network. You may have a loose idea about network options, but the field may feel generally unnavigable. So, what are the most common types of computer networks?
LAN, short for Local Area Network, is the most common network in business settings. The LAN connection enables communication across a group of computers and devices in a localized area, such as a building or a small office complex. With wired and wireless options, LAN networks are ideal for anyone who needs more than a PAN but much less than a MAN or WAN.
Wide Area Networks are quite similar to LANs but work on a much larger scale. Though there are dozens more differences between a LAN and WAN network, scalability is the biggest differentiator. WANs connect more devices over larger spaces, making them the go-to option for companies with locations across many states or even international borders. To get an idea of the size of a WAN network, it’s best to consider the classic example: the internet itself.
A Metropolitan Area Network is a series of LANs strung together to cover a single, large geographical area. Due to its higher range, MANs are preferable to LANs when wanting to cover devices across a college campus or an entire city. If you run a multi-location business in one city or a vast industrial complex, a MAN is the way to go.
Though it’s the smallest of the network options, the Personal Area Network appears last in this list because it will only apply to small business owners. If you run a small shop in your town and have one or two computers plus a printer to connect, you don’t need massive networking power. PANs are the kind of network most people install in their homes, spanning a handful of devices over a small radius, like a room or building.
The next time you wonder, “What are the most common types of computer networks?” remember this list. Though each business will have varied needs and device loads, you should install a network that will work and grow with you.