Kevin in Arlington,VA asks:
“I’ve been hearing a lot about WAN and LAN and don’t fully understand these concepts and how they affect my network. Can you please clarify these terms for me?”
First let me start by providing you with definitions of each. A LAN is a Local Area Network and a WAN is a Wide Area Network. LANs and WANs were designed to allow computers to communicate with each other and share files and information. A LAN is contained within a building or complex, like a school or a company and can be as small as two computers. A WAN encompasses a wide geographic area, connecting cities, regions and countries.
The best way to describe how a network functions is through a “neighborhood” analogy.
Imagine WAN is a neighborhood. The Internet is the system of streets and highways that connect various neighborhoods to each other. LAN is an apartment building in one of these neighborhoods. You would locate that building via the IP Address which equates to a street address. The apartment number would be found by looking up the Sub Address.
The hallways in the building connecting the apartments to each other are represented by cabling. Each apartment has a router/firewall (front door with a peephole) that allows access to valid information (friends), but not to viruses (burglars). Every neighborhood also has a router/firewall (securitygates) that is selective about which information is admitted.
If you want to send an email (mail a package) or visit a website (request information from someone), you would address that package or request using (IP Address/www.xxx.com) and then the package/request passes through the LAN (apartment building), multiple routers, multiple WANs (neighborhoods) across the internet and delivers to someone else’s LAN.
If you need further information on this subject please feel free to contact us for a consultation and network assessment.
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