What are the types of Networks?

There are various types of Computer Networking available. The classification of networks in computers can be done according to their size as well as their purpose.

The size of a network should be expressed by the geographic area and number of computers, which are a part of their networks. It includes devices housed in a single room to millions of devices spread across the world. Following are the popular types of Computer networks:

Some of the most popular computer network types are:

  • PAN (Personal Area Network)
  • LAN (Local Area Network)
  • MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)
  • WAN (Wide Area Network)

Let’s study all of these types of networking in detail.

What is PAN (Personal Area Network)?

PAN (Personal Area Network) is a computer network formed around a person. It generally consists of a computer, mobile, or personal digital assistant. PAN can be used for establishing communication among these personal devices for connecting to a digital network and the internet.

Characteristics of PAN

Below are the main characteristics of PAN:

  • It is mostly personal devices network equipped within a limited area.
  • Allows you to handle the interconnection of IT devices at the surrounding of a single user.
  • PAN includes mobile devices, tablet, and laptop.
  • It can be wirelessly connected to the internet called WPAN.
  • Appliances use for PAN: cordless mice, keyboards, and Bluetooth systems.

Advantages of PAN

Here are the important pros/benefits of PAN network:

  • PAN networks are relatively secure and safe
  • It offers only short-range solution up to ten meters
  • Strictly restricted to a small area

Disadvantages of PAN

Here are the cons/drawbacks of using PAN network:

  • It may establish a bad connection to other networks at the same radio bands.
  • Distance limits.

What is a LAN (Local Area Network)?

Local Area Network (LAN) is a group of computer and peripheral devices which are connected in a limited area such as school, laboratory, home, and office building. It is a widely useful network for sharing resources like files, printers, games, and other applications. The simplest type of LAN network is to connect computers and a printer in someone’s home or office. In general, LAN will be used as one type of transmission medium. It is a network that consists of less than 5000 interconnected devices across several buildings.

Local Area Network (LAN)

Characteristics of LAN

Here are the important characteristics of a LAN network:

  • It is a private network, so an outside regulatory body never controls it.
  • LAN operates at a relatively higher speed compared to other WAN systems.
  • There are various kinds of media access control methods like token ring and ethernet.

Advantages of LAN

Here are the pros/benefits of LAN:

  • Computer resources like hard-disks, DVD-ROM, and printers can share local area networks. This significantly reduces the cost of hardware purchases.
  • You can use the same software over the network instead of purchasing the licensed software for each client in the network.
  • Data of all network users can be stored on a single hard disk of the server computer.
  • You can easily transfer data and messages over networked computers.
  • It will be easy to manage data at only one place, which makes data more secure.
  • Local Area Network offers the facility to share a single internet connection among all the LAN users.

Disadvantages of LAN

Here are the cons/drawbacks of LAN:

  • LAN will indeed save cost because of shared computer resources, but the initial cost of installing Local Area Networks is quite high.
  • The LAN admin can check personal data files of every LAN user, so it does not offer good privacy.
  • Unauthorized users can access critical data of an organization in case LAN admin is not able to secure centralized data repository.
  • Local Area Network requires a constant LAN administration as there are issues related to software setup and hardware failures

What is WAN (Wide Area Network)?

WAN (Wide Area Network) is another important computer network that is spread across a large geographical area. A WAN network system could be a connection of LAN that connects with other LANs using telephone lines and radio waves. It is mostly limited to an enterprise or an organization.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

Characteristics of WAN

Below are the characteristics of WAN:

  • The software files will be shared among all the users; therefore, all can access to the latest files.
  • Any organization can form its global integrated network using WAN.

Advantages of WAN

Here are the benefits/pros of WAN:

  • WAN helps you to cover a larger geographical area. Therefore business offices situated at longer distances can easily communicate.
  • Contains devices like mobile phones, laptop, tablet, computers, gaming consoles, etc.
  • WLAN connections work using radio transmitters and receivers built into client devices.

Disadvantages of WAN

Here are the drawbacks/cons of WAN network:

  • The initial setup cost of investment is very high.
  • It is difficult to maintain the WAN network. You need skilled technicians and network administrators.
  • There are more errors and issues because of the wide coverage and the use of different technologies.
  • It requires more time to resolve issues because of the involvement of multiple wired and wireless technologies.
  • Offers lower security compared to other types of network in computer.

What is MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)?

Metropolitan Area Network or MAN is consisting of a computer network across an entire city, college campus, or a small region. This type of network is large than a LAN, which is mostly limited to a single building or site. Depending upon the type of configuration, this type of network allows you to cover an area from several miles to tens of miles.

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

Characteristics of MAN

Here are important characteristics of the MAN network:

  • It mostly covers towns and cities in a maximum 50 km range
  • Mostly used medium is optical fibers, cables
  • Data rates adequate for distributed computing applications.

Advantages of MAN

Here are the pros/benefits of MAN network:

  • It offers fast communication using high-speed carriers, like fiber optic cables.
  • It provides excellent support for an extensive size network and greater access to WANs.
  • The dual bus in MAN network provides support to transmit data in both directions concurrently.
  • A MAN network mostly includes some areas of a city or an entire city.

Disadvantages of MAN

Here are the drawbacks/cons of using the MAN network:

  • You need more cable to establish MAN connection from one place to another.
  • In MAN network it is tough to make the system secure from hackers

Other Types of Computer Networks

Apart from the above-mentioned computer networks, here are some other important types of networks:

  • WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network)
  • Storage Area Network
  • System Area Network
  • Home Area Network
  • POLAN- Passive Optical LAN
  • Enterprise private network
  • Campus Area Network
  • Virtual Area Network

Let’s see all these different types of networks in detail:


WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) helps you to link single or multiple devices using wireless communication within a limited area like a home, school, or office building. It gives users an ability to move around within a local coverage area that may be connected to the network. Today most modern-day’s WLAN systems are based on IEEE 802.11 standards.

2) Storage-Area Network (SAN)

A Storage Area Network is a type of network that allows consolidated, block-level data storage. It is mainly used to make storage devices, like disk arrays, optical jukeboxes, and tape libraries.

3) System-Area Network

System Area Network is used for a local network. It offers high-speed connection in server-to-server and processor-to-processor applications. The computers connected on a SAN network operate as a single system at quite high speed.

4) Passive Optical Local Area Network

POLAN is a networking technology that helps you to integrate into structured cabling. It allows you to resolve the issues of supporting Ethernet protocols and network apps.

POLAN allows you to use an optical splitter which helps you to separate an optical signal from a single-mode optical fiber. It converts this single signal into multiple signals.

5) Home Area Network (HAN):

A Home Area Network is always built using two or more interconnected computers to form a local area network (LAN) within the home. For example, in the United States, about 15 million homes have more than one computer.

These types of network connections help computer owners to interconnect with multiple computers. This network allows sharing files, programs, printers, and other peripherals.

6) Enterprise Private Network :

Enterprise private network (EPN) networks are build and owned by businesses that want to securely connect numerous locations in order to share various computer resources.

7) Campus Area Network (CAN):

A Campus Area Network is made up of an interconnection of LANs within a specific geographical area. For example, a university campus can be linked with a variety of campus buildings to connect all the academic departments.

8) Virtual Private Network:

A VPN is a private network that uses a public network to connect remote sites or users together. The VPN network uses “virtual” connections routed through the internet from the enterprise’s private network or a third-party VPN service to the remote site.

It is a free or paid service that keeps your web browsing secure and private over public WiFi hotspots.

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