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 What Is LAN?

A LAN is the short form of a Local Area Network. The LAN is made up of many computers linked to each other and forms a network in a remote location. A working example of a LAN connection can be seen in computer Labs, government offices, corporate offices, and in other places where there are a number of computers present in close proximity. In LAN connection, each computer uses TCP/IP ethernet to send and receive information from one computer to the other. 

General Jul 30, 21 by Nisal N 13 min Read
 What Is LAN?

This is just the basic definition of LAN; to have a deeper understanding of LAN and why it is still popular, you need to read the given article below. Today we will show you how a LAN connection works along with some other interesting facts about LAN, which will make us understand its importance in developing other forms of networks like Wifi, WAN, and others. 

A Brief History About LAN

With the deployment of personal computers in offices, schools, colleges, and at home, the information which was sent between the office computers changed drastically. Now the terminals present in the computers can be used to perform their own set of instructions and maintain their own memories. As a result, the mainframe devices now have breathing space, and now they can be used to perform more complex tasks. 

LAN allowed data transmission between workers and even between the devices. Now printers can take the printing request from more than one computer and thus make sure that the printer is not underutilized. Moreover, with the use of a LAN connection, an information request can be sent directly to the other system, which results in immediate communication between the two parties. In the early days, the most common usage of LAN was in interoffice communication or sending emails to each other. This made emails become the official record of the communication between two workers, companies, and devices. 

With the increase of personal computers at home, LAN became more than a network which was used in the offices. With the implementation of LAN on various personal computers at home or in the school, people can share files between the computers with ease. No need to put the data in an external drive and copy it on the other system. 

The Basic Layout Of LAN

Even two computers can form a LAN connection between them, and even a thousand computers that are placed in the same building can form a LAN connection. As a result, it is fair to say that LAN is quite flexible in terms of the systems it can handle in the network. A LAN connection requires you to have an ethernet cable to make a physical connection with the layer 2 switches and other devices with which you want to connect with and communicate. 

In the case of more extensive LAN networks, there could be an addition of layer 3 switches or routers so as to streamline the traffic flows. Apart from this, a LAN connection has a total of 7 different components which makes it possible for your LAN network to send and receive files in an instant. 

1 Network Interface Card (NIC): It is a computer installed in a computer so your computer can connect with the network. A NIC in the older times was a separate circuit board that was connected to the motherboard, but now most of the motherboards come with pre-installed NIC. 

2 Server: A server is a computer that is designed to process the request and deliver the data to the other client over the LAN or internet connection. There are three types of servers, a file server, print server, and communication server. 

3 Station: A station is just another computer present in the LAN network, but it is directly connected to the server, and all the incoming and outgoing communication from the server passes through the station and then goes to the receiving device. 

4 HUB: A hub is a common connection point on which each device present in the network is connected. Hubs are more often used to connect more than one segment of LAN. Hub has multiple ethernet ports, so when a data packet arrives from one of the ports, it is copied to all the other ports present in the hub—resulting in all the segments of the LAN network seeing the data packet. 

5 Switch: The working of the switch is quite like a hub; it is also a central point for connecting network cables. However, in the case of a switch, it receives a data packet from one of the connected computers, and it sends the data packet only to the specific computer. At the same time, all the other computers will have no knowledge of the data packet's transaction. 

6 Router: A router is used to make a connection of a LAN network with the Internet. The router has a configuration table that decides where the received data packet needs to go in the network. 

7 Access Points: It could be a hardware device or a computer's software program that works as a communication hub for users present on the LAN network from a wireless device and want to make a wired connection from the network. 

Working Of LAN

The earlier implementation of LAN uses coaxial cable, which is an electrical cable, and it was used to carry radio signals. The LAN connection was developed by connecting two or more computers with each other via physical connection so the devices can share the files with each other. The coaxial cable was used so that it can connect the radio transmitters with their antennas. But later on, it was found that coaxial cable can be used to deploy internet connection, and it can have separate cable channels. The most common form of LAN is the ethernet.

Ethernet has now become a powerful data transfer link technology that uses physical connections. The ethernet that we have today can go all the way up to 100Mbps of speed. The cable connection can extend to 100 meters, but in comparison to optical, this maximum length seems nothing. As a result, LAN is deployed everywhere to access the Internet. 

A LAN connection cannot work on its own, and it needs to have a Wifi connection or an ethernet connection to provide internet connectivity to the devices. A Wifi is a protocol that transfers data via radio waves. 

Different Types Of LAN

There are mainly two types of LAN connection, and they are:

Client/Server LAN 

In this type of LAN connection, various client devices are connected to one server machine, which works as a centralized system to handle several activities like storing data, printer and plotter access, and the network's traffic. In a client/server LAN connection, each system that is using the LAN connection is connected physically with the other using an ethernet cable or a wireless medium.

Peer-to-Peer LAN

In a Peer-to-Peer connection, there is no need for a centralized server machine, so it cannot handle massive file workloads as there is no dedicated centralized machine handling the sending and receiving of the files. In this form of LAN, connection devices are connected in parallel with each other. 

Setting Up LAN Connection 

In order to set up a home LAN connection, you need to follow the procedure given below. 

Step - 1: First, you need to mark out the local services which you want to access through the LAN network, like a printer, a fax machine, a scanner, network disk drives, and even a server. 

Step - 2: Find out how many devices are going to be connected to your network because each device, no matter if it's a server, a printing machine, or a laptop, needs to have a unique address in the network. 

Step - 3: Draw a cable map for the devices which will always be connected and are stationary on their locations. A wired LAN will always be a better option than a wireless connection; use standard ethernet cables to connect them with the switch or a router. 

Step - 4: Now that you have found out the number of cables coming in and going out from the central device. You need to make a purchase of a router or a switch, depending on your need. A cable router is a better option than the two. If the model you select doesn't have enough ports to connect all the devices, then you need to buy a switch. Otherwise, a router will be enough.

Step - 5: Configure the WAN port of the cable router, and these settings will vary from vendor to vendor. Most of the information on how to configure your router can be supplied to you by the Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Step - 6: Configure the LAN ports of your router; in most cases, the LAN ports will by default act as a Dynamic Host Configuration Server DHCP. This means the router will automatically allot the address to all the devices which are connected to it. But be sure to have enough addresses present outside of the allotted range, so you can provide static addresses if you need them. 

Step - 7: Now connect the network's wires using the ethernet cables according to the cable map you have created in step - 3. Make a connection with the switch to the cable router LAN ports via up-link or a straight port which can be found on the switch. 

Step - 8: Finally, test out the services which you are looking to work with the LAN connection from each device present in the network. Also, check the read and write permissions of the shared files by copying the files from a server device to a workstation like a laptop or your smartphone.

What Makes LAN Different From WAN?

A LAN connection works with a group of network devices that allow communication between the devices present on the network. A LAN connection is more or less a private network, and the control of the network is closely packed with the devices present in close proximity to each other. In terms of propagation delay, LAN has the minimum of it in comparison to both MAN and WAN. A LAN connection can be found in colleges, hospitals, homes, etc. 

WAN stands for Wide Area Network, and it covers quite a larger area than LAN. A WAN connection is expensive, and a single organization does not own it. In order to transfer and receive data via WAN, PSTN, or satellite medium is used. In comparison to LAN, WAN is not restricted to a building or an infrastructure. But it might have its limits within a state or a country. A WAN is made by connecting several LANs and WANs, thus making it publicly accessible. The internet speed in WAN is quite fast, and the components used for WAN are much more expensive to buy and deploy. A typical example of WAN can be seen in the usage of the world wide web.

Benefits Of LAN 

If you are thinking about creating a LAN network for your home, make sure you read out its benefits before deciding. 

Resource Sharing

If you are setting up the LAN connection in your home, then it will make resource sharing much easier for you across the different devices. You can play a movie on your DVD drive using the file which is stored on the server. All the devices present in the LAN are connected to a single device. So when a device needs a resource, it can be instantly shared via a LAN network. 

Software Sharing 

Software sharing is another significant advantage of using a LAN connection. A single computer on which the licensed software is running can share the software resources with the other devices present in the network. Thus, there is no need to purchase separate software for each device, and all can be worked under one single software license. 

Convenient Communication 

When you have a LAN connection in place, you don't need to have the Internet to send and receive messages from the other devices which are on the network. The data is placed on the server machine, and it can be accessed anytime when a user requires it. Hence it saves a lot of time when the messages between various devices are exchanged. 

Centralized Data

As we have said earlier, all the data of multiple devices are stored in one location: the centralized server. Any device on the network can be used to access the data or the information present on the server. If a user makes changes in the data using one of the devices, all the other devices can see and fetch the updated data file. Likewise, you can create a separate set data file and add a security measure to it. So it can only be accessed by you when you enter the password for it. 

Internet Sharing 

Last on our list is the benefit of sharing the single internet connection across all the devices which are connected to the network. A single computer with an internet connection can share the internet connectivity with all the other devices which are present on the network. You can see the implementation of network sharing in offices and in cyber cafes. 

Conclusion

The Internet has now become a household need, whether you are a businessman or a corporate professional, or even a college student. You need the Internet on all your devices, but getting a separate internet connection for each device isn't an ideal solution. That's where the LAN connection is going to help you out. With time the LAN network has upgraded itself. As a result, it is still in use, and right now, if you are accessing the Internet using a wifi router, then you too are also using a LAN connection to access the Internet. 

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Nisal N

Computers has always fascinated me since I was a kid and here we are. I love travelling for 2 reasons: the first one to see a new part of the world and second (the most important one) to experience the rich culture hidden among the country and people. I'm pretty good at cooking but very poor when it comes to baking.

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