Network Deployment

Network Deployment

LAN vs WAN: Which Network is Right for You?

by

Mustafa Ali

|

June 27, 2019

If you are setting up your business, you do need to think about the type of network that you need. There are two main options to consider here. These are LAN and WAN cable networks. While they sound relatively similar there are distinct differences and advantages of each option. Exploring these will help you determine which one is right for your business needs. It’s not a one size fits all approach and it’s important to make the right choice to ensure that you get the right number of benefits. So, let’s dive in and explore some of the most important features and variables that you should consider.

LAN vs WAN Definitions

LANs Explained

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.

In a LAN different cables can be used to physically connect different devices together. However, it’s far more popular to use wifi to connect the different technology and ensure that a fully integrated network is built up. These are the 5 steps needed for a successful LAN implementation.

WANs Explained

This is also known as a Wide Area Network. It’s used to connect devices that are far from another. It’s quite common for a WAN set up to be far more complex than a LAN. Essentially, you start with a LAN and then use the WAN to connect multiple LAN networks to one another. Ultimately, this means that offices can be connected and this typically occurs through public networks.

If you want the greatest example of the WAN network system, just look at the internet. On the most basic level, this is a system that ensures that multiple networks can connect together. As such, it can be considered to be the largest WAN network in existence today.

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.

Speeds. Generally, it will be easier to boost speed levels and reach higher speeds in a LAN network compared to a WAN. This will depend on the hardware and cables used but because you can connect devices physically, it can be incredibly rapid. LAN devices can also be connected to the same router or switch which again does mean faster connections.

In contrast, WAN speeds can be impacted by various issues. You need to think about the equipment you are using but it will also depend on the equipment used in the network itself. You won’t typically have any control over this and WANs will be slower due to the distance data will have to travel. Technology is changing all the time and high-quality copper cables are used to speed up WAN connections.

Security. Generally, it is true to say that LANs are far safer than WANs. The reason for this should be fairly obvious. Since LANs are smaller in size and scope, it’s less likely for an issue to develop or for something like a virus to access the network. In contrast, WANs are far wider with a higher level of interconnectivity. As such, there is always going to be a greater chance that something goes wrong. That’s why when using a WAN it’s crucial that you do have the right set up to protect the individual systems and the network itself.

A LAN network will also typically experience less congestion whereas a WAN will tend to suffer from more. Again, this is just due to the nature of the different setups in place here.

In our changing digital landscape, cybersecurity has become paramount importance of 2019.

Cost. Typically, you will find that the LAN network is cheaper to both set up and maintain. This is once again due to the low geographical area of the system. You also don’t need to worry about leasing telecommunication lines. In contrast, with a WAN network telecommunication line leases are needed, driving up the cost. For set up, costs can be cut down by using cheap software such as a VPN but this will never be as effective as a full physical set up.

This should help you understand whether or not you need a WAN or LAN network in your business. Generally speaking, small companies will operate on a LAN system whereas larger businesses and corporations will require both. Advanced networks that use LANs and WANs, as well as subnetworks, can be incredibly complex because they all need to operate independently and as one unified system. As such, it is crucial that the right set up is utilized from day one.

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