LAN or Local Area Network is a type of computer network that is used for a specific area. Small businesses with just one office or those establishments occupying only a single area, commonly utilize LAN. It is also the ideal form of system connection that companies and other offices use to connect computers within their workplace premises. However, LAN, true to what its name suggests, while being an exceptionally effective set-up is limited by the aspect of distance.
WAN, on the other hand, stands for Wide Area Network. It can cover a broader region than LAN. WAN can supply a computer network across geographical margins, across continents. The Internet is the perfect paradigm of WAN.
It is certain that the foremost distinction between a LAN and a WAN is the area and distance that they can provide a network for. But there are other fundamental differences between the two.
In terms of speed, a LAN is about ten times quicker than a WAN and transfers data with a rapidity of numerous megabits per second. A WAN is commonly slow. The fastest WAN is just about 155 Mbps.
With regard to connection and transmission media, a LAN has Ethernet as the established standard for connecting workstations. The computer workstations with its derivative devices are attached through coaxial cables and wires. The transmission medium can theoretically reach rates of up to 10Gbit. It is safe to say that cable connections administrate a LAN. Most of the time, WAN depend on common carriers such as the so-called service providers in order to be linked. The transmission instruments used often are telephone lines, microwaves and satellite links. Telecommunication is a keyword within the WAN territory. A wireless connection is a sample of it.
The LAN and WAN difference appears also in the type of network topology and usage. It is already known that both connect differently which can be attributed to their network topology. A LAN network is more personalized intended for peer-to-peer communication. Each user shares its resources with other users within the network. Printers, scanners, files and other applications can also be shared within the workplace. With this set-up, usage is much more controlled to just a number of users. More often than not, user rights and password validation procedures are practiced with an administrator managing it. As to a WAN, it operates on a user-to-server basis, with resources requested from a main server. WAN is very open, broadly obtainable and communication is prominent as opposed to sharing of hardware resources.
The costing is at par with the hardware requirements. Both WAN and LAN have connected workstations. Setting up WAN routers, bridges and gateways are necessary to interconnect LANs. Since WAN has larger hardware requirements, numerous workstations are needed, along with connection hardware like bridges, and leased lines. These necessities make WAN more costly to set-up than smaller LAN.