Learn about the seven types of computer networks, the devices they work on, their location, and the distance between them.
Technology and computer science have gone through a long history so that we can enjoy the benefits of computer networks, without being overwhelmed by the process behind it.
A computer network, also known as an internet network, is defined as the connection between two or more computers with the objective of sharing files or resources and establishing communication. Some of the benefits of computer networks are:
Types of computer networks and their characteristics
- Make communication possible through email, video call, instant messaging, among other methods.
- Share devices (such as printers, scanners, among others), files, software and operating programs on remote systems.
- Allow network users to easily access and maintain the information that is shared.
As a computer network is the connection that exists between two or more devices with the objective of sharing information, there are various ways to establish this connection. The type of computer networks depend on the number of devices that you want to link, as well as the location and distance between each one.
1. Personal Area Network (PAN)
This is the smallest and most basic network of the seven types of networks that we mention in this article. The PAN network, also known as the Bluetooth connection, is intended to cover a very small area, usually a single room or building.
A PAN network is commonly used for a single person and to connect a small group of devices, such as a computer, smartphone, smartwatch, and wireless headphones. So, the next time you connect your smartphone to your headphones or your car to play music, you can thank the personal area network!
2. Local Area Network (LAN)
This is an extremely common and easy to identify type of network. Just as its name suggests, a LAN connects a group of devices in a local area.
This type of network can be used to connect devices throughout an entire building, or more depending on the proximity between them. Whether the connection is established via cables or wirelessly, we will find the LAN network in offices or in an apartment complex, for example.
3. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
A WLAN network is a type of branch of the LAN network, with the distinction that it does not depend on cables to connect to the network. When you use WiFi, you are using a WLAN network, where it is generally used in the same scenario as LANs, it just depends on whether users prefer a wired or wireless connection.
4. Wide Area Network (WAN)
A WAN network has the ability to connect devices remotely. It does the same thing as LAN, but over a larger area while connecting more devices that are even miles away.
The most basic example of a WAN is the Internet itself, which connects devices around the world. Due to the magnitude of this type of network, it is typically maintained by multiple administrators and ownership is distributed among multiple organizations.
5. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)
The metropolitan area network is larger than a LAN, but smaller than a WAN, since the MAN network incorporates elements of both types of networks. It has the ability to connect multiple LANs together and span an entire geographic area, such as a city, town, or entire campus. Ownership and management of this type of network is generally in the hands of a single large company.
6. Storage Area Network (SAN)
This is another type of LAN that is designed to handle large data transfers and storage. The purpose of the SAN is to move larger, more complex storage resources away from the network to a separate, high-performance space. Doing this not only makes data retrieval and storage easy, but also frees up space and improves the overall performance of the original network.
7. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
The goal of the VPN network is to increase security and privacy when accessing a network. The VPN acts as an intermediary between the user and the network by encrypting your data and hiding your identity.
It is an excellent option for sending and receiving confidential information and cybersecurity experts recommend using a VPN every time a user connects to the Internet, especially when connecting to a public network.
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Understanding the definition of a computer network, its elements and the different types in which devices can be connected is key to moving forward firmly in the world of computing.
Courses in this program may include: Computer Systems, Programming in Java, Python Programming, Computer Architecture, Database Concepts & Programming, among others. This program has been developed to provide you with the necessary tools to face any challenge in the sector and with which you can aspire to professional positions such as IT project manager, web developer, information director, systems analyst, computer programmer, computer security analyst and IT auditor.
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