LAN is something that most of us use more or less consciously every day. Are you wondering what makes this type of connection different? Or maybe you want to set up your own LAN? You will find all the necessary information in this article.
What is a Local Area Network?
A LAN (short for Local Area Network) is a type of connection that allows computers and peripherals to work together in a specific area. Using LAN, you can create a connection of devices within a range of no more than 1 kilometer, but remember that longer distances in this range usually require the use of special signal amplifiers. Networks with greater coverage are called WANs.
How are LANs used? We can observe examples of the use of this technology not only at school or at work, but also in our own apartment. This type of connection is used by wireless printers, smartphones and laptops when using one network. The advantage of the LAN network is the ability to lower the operating costs of popular peripherals and increase the data transfer speed to values usually unattainable for a WAN network.
There are three main types of LANs available: wired, wireless, and virtual. They differ, for example, in the way devices communicate in the network structures or the response speed.
Wireless LANs (WLANs) – do not require any cables or other physical connections to allow the devices to function. In this case, Wi-Fi is most often used.
Wired LAN networks – for devices to work within them, it is necessary to connect them with a cable, most often in the form of a cable or optical fiber.
Virtual LANs (VLANs) – they work by connecting devices based on software protocols that manage network traffic. It enables logical separation of many networks within one physical connection.
WLAN and Wi-Fi – what’s the difference?
How is Wireless LAN (“wireless local area network”) different from Wi-Fi? Finding a definite answer to this question can be quite problematic as many people use both terms interchangeably. In general, the name “WLAN” is used quite rarely, while “Wi-Fi” is almost ubiquitous in the modern world.
WLAN, as its name suggests, is a network that wirelessly connects computers and peripherals that are located in close proximity to each other. These connections are created in accordance with the standards that make up IEEE 802.11. The correct operation of WLAN would not be possible without a properly designed infrastructure – its components include network cards, access points or additional equipment, for example in the form of distributors.
Wi-Fi and is a trademark owned by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Devices of this brand (bearing this mark) operate in accordance with IEEE 802.11, so it is possible to use them in creating a WLAN network. Treating both words as synonyms may be due to the fact that the Wi-Fi Alliance mark is widely used by the software and integrated circuit manufacturers associated in the association. Using these names interchangeably is not correct, but it is also not a serious mistake – all products with the Wi-Fi logo can be included in the WLAN.
Building a home LAN – what should you take care of?
Before you begin setting up your network connections, think carefully about what you actually want from a LAN service. Specify the purposes for which the local network is to be used and what computers or other devices will be connected to it. Also determine in which area of the building the equipment will be located. Remember that too large an area is most often associated with the problem of various malfunctions in the LAN operation, for example related to the increased time in which information is transferred between devices.
Determine how you intend to connect a group of computers or other devices so that they can work together on a single network. The possibilities in this regard most often boil down to the choice between a wireless connection and that via an Ethernet cable. If Ethernet connectivity is required on a device, your next task will be to provide the appropriate hardware resources, including the right number of cables.
Do you want your network to give you the ability to use the Internet? In addition to a computer, peripherals and cables, you will also need a router and a modem (if not already built into the router). You must also make sure that the room where you put the devices has access to a telephone or network socket with an active service purchased from the network provider.
How to set up a Local Area Network (LAN)?
The first stage of creating an effective local network will be connecting the router (optionally a switch) to a network or telephone socket, and then connecting one of the computers to this router or switch.
If you have a Windows computer, after connecting, the network configuration wizard should automatically open. Creating a new connection in this way is quite simple – just go through a few short steps in the configuration tool, and in a moment you will be able to enjoy a correctly created local network connection. If the wizard did not open automatically for you, you can open the Start menu, and then type “Network and Sharing Center” in the content search box. From the options available in this tool, just select “Set up a new connection or network” – now you can freely choose your preferred connection settings.
Do you want devices in your network to connect wirelessly? Set up a Wi-Fi connection. For advice on how to do this, see the manual for your router or network switch. Also check how you can change the network name and password. In most cases, this means logging into the router or switch from a browser. Changes to these parameters are necessary to ensure network security.
If you want devices in your LAN to have access to the Internet, you must configure this type of connection separately. Due to the frequent differences between the methods of obtaining such access among the customers of different operators, check with your Internet Service Provider.
A LAN is one of the best ways to quickly transfer content and exchange information between nearby devices. So if you want to create a convenient environment that will facilitate the processes of managing many different devices, you should consider configuring such a connection for them.