Which Suits You?
One of the easiest ways to determine which type of network you need is to explore your business set up. A small office or business will typically only need a LAN. The local network will ensure that different files can be transferred through your office leading to a connected business environment. If you have a larger business or multiple branches, that’s when you’re going to need a WAN. This means that you will be able to connect to those branches or different business offices on a unified system. So, while LANs are used for homes, businesses, and schools, WANs provide more widespread connections. LANs will also usually be privately owned whereas WANs will often be run by a third party like a telecom provider. They can also operate on a public network.
Generally, if you are using a WAN you will also have a LAN but the opposite may not be true. However, if a WAN and LAN are in place, it’s likely that these are just pieces of a larger set of networks. As such, these systems can be quite complex to set up and manage. Particularly, if you want to maintain a high bandwidth.
Now, let’s explore some of the differences and advantages of the two networks.
LAN vs WAN Definitions
LAN stands for local area network. This allows for computers and devices that are close together to connect. They will then be able to share files or complete tasks and this usually means that they are using the same router or switch. Typically, this type of network will consist of everyday devices which could include a range of different business technology. Examples would be tablets, printers, and desktops. The network will also usually have routers and switches(you may be interested in Routers vs Switches vs Firewalls) as well as wireless cards or potentially ethernet cables. Be aware that a LAN is commonly set up in a home to allow easily family sharing.