Complete networks, more often referred to as computer networks, are a series of connections between computer devices. While they can be identified using a variety of metrics, they are most often distinguished by the geographic area they cover. There are many types of computer networks; however, the main and most commonly used ones are LAN, PAN, WAN and MAN.

What is a Complete Network?

A complete network is a computer network that is composed of two or more computers connected by either cables or WiFi. It is set up so data and resources can easily be transmitted, exchanged or shared across a computer network, IBM writes.

Computer networks are built using hardware such as routers, switches, access points and cables, and software, such as operating systems and business applications.

There are four main types of computer networks: LAN, PAN, WAN and MAN. The type of network is most often defined by the geographic location it is confined to. For example, LAN networks typically cover a building, while WAN networks cover a large geographical area. 

Networks can also be defined by the protocols utilized to communicate, the component’s physical arrangement, its methods of controlling traffic and its purpose.

Computer networks are integral to the operation of businesses, IT providers and individuals. They essentially enable various devices to communicate with one another, from printing a page to accessing files stored on a server across the country. 

Understanding computer networks when developing or operating a cybersecurity framework is essential since every network has different vulnerabilities.

What are LAN and PAN?

LAN stands for Local Area Network and refers to a group of computers and devices connected in a small area such as offices, schools, homes, laboratories and buildings. According to Guru99, the simplest type of LAN network is connecting computers to a printer in an office. 

Computers are typically connected via a communication medium such as a coaxial cable or twisted pair, Java T Point writes. LAN networks are less expensive because they utilize inexpensive hardware, such as network adapters, hubs and ethernet cables.

Another added benefit to LAN networks is they provide higher security and transfer data at high-speed rates.

PAN stands for Personal Area Network and refers to a network arranged around an individual, usually within 10 meters. For example, PAN is used to connect computer devices for personal use, such as plugging headphones into the computer, connecting your phone or tablet or connecting to another computer.

According to Guru99, PAN networks are relatively secure, offering a short-range solution; however, its distance limits can be fairly restrictive.

What are WAN and MAN?

WAN stands for Wide Area Network and refers to a network that extends over a large swath of geographic areas, such as countries or states. WAN networks are typically used by enterprises or organizations, allowing them to form a global integrated network.

According to Java T Point, WAN networks span geographical areas through fiber optic cables, telephone lines and satellite links. They could also be comprised of a series of LAN connections. 

Wide Area Networks can contain mobile devices, laptops, tablets, computers and even gaming consoles. They allow businesses with large distances between them to easily communicate and access each other’s files.

MAN stands for Metropolitan Area Network and refers to a computer network that extends across a city, college campus or small region. It’s larger than LAN and covers an area within a 50 km range.

MAN networks typically utilize optical fibers and cables to connect, providing fast communication. An additional advantage to Metropolitan Area Networks is the dual bus that allows data transmission in both directions concurrently, Guru99 writes.

What Complete Network is Right for You?

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