This is a capability of a computer that it can be attached to another computer and both can work as one single unit. This connectivity is called networking. So, in simple words computer network is a group of at least two and more computers attached in a well-defined manner. This network shares a common communication path for sharing resources like data files.
Types of computer networks are basically depending on the number of computers or devices (like servers), the location of devices along with their respective distance in between. We can term this all as the size of the network. A computer network is mainly of 12 types as given below.
- WAN (Wide Area Network)
- MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)
We all are aware of these three but as the result of development in technology now we have more types as given below:
- PAN (Personal Area Network)
- Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
- Campus Area Network (CAN)
- Storage Area Network (SAN)
- System-Area Network (SAN)
- Passive Optical Local Area Network (POLAN)
- Enterprise Private Network (EPN)
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Home Area Network (HAN)
Let’s discuss them one by one in detail.
Types of Computer Network
1. Local Area Network (LAN)
- It is a network created in a small area such as a building, or office.
- Number of devices depends on the network size. It maybe 2 or 2000.
- Little costly.
- Hardware such as hubs, network adapters, ethernet cables, twisted pairs, coaxial cables, etc. is used.
- Provide high bandwidth for a fast transmission rate with high security.
- Ethernet and Wi-fi are two famous examples.
2. Wide Area Network (WAN)
- This network covers a large geographical area like cities or states. The internet service worldwide is provided with this network with the help of cables, often going through the sea and oceans.
- We can also call it a group of lots of LAN or MAN.
- It’s not location oriented, geographically it is everywhere. We can add any place in a running WAN.
- A Wide Area Network consists of huge amount of telephone lines, fiber optical cables or satellite links.
- This network maybe a private or public network. This means if a single organization creates its own WAN, then only the authorities approved by the organization can use this Private WAN.
- On the other hand, anyone can access a public WAN. Public WAN are created and provided by telecom or internet service provider on free or chargeable basis.
- The Internet itself is an example of WAN.
3. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)
- This network covers a larger geographic area like a city or state sized area.
- We can call it a group of lots of LAN.
- Bigger than LAN but smaller than WAN.
- In MAN, various LANs are connected to each other through telephone exchange lines or fiber, optical cables.
- It’s not limited to a building.
- Speed of MAN depends on the speed of the attached LAN.
4. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
- Wireless LAN is similar as a small size LAN.
- Its wireless so the limit is quite wide but when we go far from the source network provider (Router or modem) the speed gets low.
- Used in Homes, schools, or small office building.
- At least 2 or multiple devices including peripheral devices like smartphones, printers, projectors, and smart assistant devices can be associated.
- currently WLAN systems are based on IEEE 802.11 standards.
5. Personal Area Network (PAN)
- It is the smallest and most basic network formation.
- It covers a very small area (maximum a room or a house).
- PAN is user-oriented means a single person can have their own PAN, or members of a home or small business team upto 20-30 members can have their combined PAN.
- In today’s time, we use WIFI at our home, through which we and other family members can join our smartphones, laptops, desktop, virtual assistant, and other devices as well.
- Bluetooth is a kind of PAN.
- PAN has very short-range support maximum upto 10 meters.
- It supports limited numbers of devices at once.
- The router is connected to the internet with the help of wire or becomes wireless.
- The router creates a WIFI environment for hassle free connectivity.
- If we connect our devices to each other with cables then it is also considered PAN.
- So, a PAN can be wireless or wired.
- The maximum hardware used is a router and cables.
- Car multimedia connectivity, Bluetooth connectivity, Hotspot connectivity, and WIFI connectivity are counted as PAN.
6. Storage Area Network (SAN)
- SAN is also a type of LAN.
- A SAN provides access to block-level data storage. Means data can be stored in fix size blocks in storage devices over a network itself.
- Mainly used for handling large data transfers and storage.
- This network is dedicated to moving larger, more complex storage data to move or being transmitted over a specific predefined path.
- It is a high-speed network that connects groups of storage devices to several other servers worldwide.
- Instead of using LAN, a SAN moves the storage resources from the network to its own high-powered network configuration.
- SAN controls easy retrieval and storage of the data.
- SAN also manages the storage space in network as it frees up space and improves the overall performance of the network.
7. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- VPN is like a Private Area Network over a WAN, MAN, or LAN.
- It means whenever we use a large internet network, we can run our own small size PAN on this network.
- The reason behind using a VPN is to increase security and privacy while accessing any network.
- it encrypts our data and hides our identity.
- By this we can avoid hacking, cyber threats and attacks.
- This is a great option for sending and receiving confidential information.
- VPN are virtual means no hardware is used instead some specific types of software are used to create VPN.
- VPN runs in sessions. This means once we create a VPN it will exist till we close the session. Once we close the session the VPN got terminated. If we want to start another session then we need to create another VPN.
8. System Area Network (SAN)
- A SAN consists of multiple computers or devices and pretends as a single computer.
- This group of multiple computers or devices is known as clusters.
- It is similar to Storage Area Network, but its support applications as well like server-to-server application and processor-to-processor applications.
- This network is useful for processing applications that require high network performance.
- It works on the LAN concept.
- It provides high-speed connectivity. It handles high amounts of information in large requests generated simultaneously in between the connected devices of the network.
9. Campus Area Network (CAN)
- Campus refers to a fixed limited sized geographical area. For example a school or college premises.
- CAN is bigger than a LAN but smaller than a MAN.
- Multiple routers are used to receive internet and enhance the transmission speed.
- A CAN could be spread across several buildings within the campus.
- Examples of CAN are networks that cover schools, colleges, buildings, hotels, resorts etc.
10. Passive Optical Local Area Network (POLAN)
- A POLAN is a technology that is used to distribute the single LAN signal into multiple small LAN.
- It is a point-to-multipoint LAN architecture. It generally uses optical splitters for splitting an optical signal from one strand of single mode optical fiber to multiple signals for serving users and devices.
- This means one LAN signal as input and creates multiple Small LAN signals. Example Water Showers used in Bathrooms, where single pipeline connectivity acts as a LAN input and small tiny holes which sprayed water as output acts as a small distributed LAN signal.
- Numbers of cables are used to router equal to a required internet connection.
11. Enterprise Private Network (EPN)
- This network often consists of WAN or MAN.
- It is like a worldwide spread Private Area Network specially designed for an organization.
- Such organizations want a secure connection over various locations to share computer resources but in the limit of the organization.
12. Home Area Network (HAN)
- Similar a Private area network but covers a home only.
- Works on LAN structure.
- Limited devices can be attached at once.
A computer network is a group of interconnected computers. Through which we can access the data and resources available on another connected computer. This thing makes the whole world feels like at our doorstep. One can use the network for online data transmission, video sessions and virtual meetings, learning, etc. Each network type has its own configuration, requirements, and usefulness along with its limits. One can choose the best suitable model from the above mentioned.
The computer itself is a good smart device but single or offline computer offer very less utilization. A network of computers also called as the Internet gives the computer its actual strength and 100 percent utilization. So, it’s good to use the network facility per your own requirement.