Understanding Local Area Network (LAN)

A Local Area Network or LAN, as it’s most commonly known, refers to a group of computers in a geographically limited space connected by one communication line or server. This network can have two to three computers/laptops in a home or several hundred in a large corporate office.

LAN allows people working in a group to access printers, storage servers, and other peripheral devices. When two or more LANs are connected with the help of telephone lines or radio waves, it’s then known as a WAN or Wide Area Network.

Creating a LAN

Setting up a LAN requires hardware such as cables, and routers to physically connect the computers. However, with the advent of modern-day laptops, computer systems, and WiFi, it’s relatively easy to set up a LAN. Some offices and institutions prefer Ethernet over WiFi to enable LAN. Both Ethernet and WiFi allow faster data speeds at lower costs.

Types of LAN

LANs can be differentiated by the kind of topologies and equipment they use.

Topology

The arrangement of various devices sharing the same LAN is called topology. Topology can be of following types:

Star topology – One of the most popular LAN arrangements where each computer contains a Network Interface Card, which is then connected to a central hub by a cable.

Bus topology – In this arrangement, the systems are connected via coaxial cable in a chain formation.

Ring topology – This arrangement is called ‘ring’ because systems are connected in a closed-loop, and a token is required to share data or information.

Wireless peer-to-peer – In this arrangement, data is sent to all the available nodes but is accepted by the only system it’s meant for. 

Wireless access points – In this topology, multiple wireless systems are configured to communicate directly with one central access point.

Equipment

Different topologies are made from various types of hardware, such as:

Cables – Today, category 5e is the most used wiring for LANs. You’ll find an RJ-45 plug at both ends of the cable, which are then connected directly to a NIC (see below). 

Network Interface Card (NIC) – These cards are required in every system which wishes to be on the LAN. They can achieve a data speed of 10 to 1000 Mbps.

Hubs – These are used to connect the systems and act as a nodal center for receiving and transmitting data.

Switches – These check the size of a LAN regularly if it’s getting too big.

Securing LAN

Once you’ve set up your LAN, it’s import that you secure it. This can be done by applying one of the many available measures, some of which are highlighted below:

Unique, strong passwords to connect with the router.

Regular updates for the system software to avoid any holes in the software.

End-to-end encryption.

Fingerprint recognition to allow access.

Security tokens.

Similarly, other security packages can be purchased via the SaaS model. So, now you know how LAN works. Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below.

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