LAN, WAN, difference and uses

Pros and Cons of LAN, WAN and where they're used


A local area network (LAN) is a computer that interconnects computers in a limited area such as a home, school, computer laboratory, or office building using network media. The defining characteristics of LANs, in contrast to wide area networks (WANs), include their usually higher data transfer rates, smaller geographic area, and lack of a need for leased communication lines.

LAN Advantages:
• Workstations can share peripheral devices like printers. This is cheaper than buying a printer for every workstations.
• Workstations do not necessarily need their own hard disk or CD-ROM drives which make them cheaper to buy than stand-alone PCs.
• User can save their work centrally on the network’s file server. This means that they can retrieve their work from any workstation on the network.
• They don’t need to go back to the same workstation all the time.
• Users can communicate with each other and transfer data between workstations very easily.
• One copy of each application package such as a word processor, spreadsheet etc. can be loaded onto the file and shared by all users.
• When a new version comes out, it only has to be loaded onto the server instead of onto every workstation.

LAN Disadvantages:
• Special security measures are needed to stop users from using programs and data that they should not have access to;
• Networks are difficult to set up and need to be maintained by skilled technicians.
• If the file server develops a serious fault, all the users are affected, rather than just one user in the case of a stand-alone machine.


A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a network that covers a broad area (i.e., any telecommunications network that links across metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries) using private or public network transports. Business and government entities utilize WANs to relay data among employees, clients, buyers, and suppliers from various geographical locations. In essence, this mode of telecommunication allows a business to effectively carry out its daily function regardless of location. The Internet can be considered a WAN as well, and is used by businesses, governments, organizations, and individuals for almost any purpose imaginable. Related terms for other types of networks are personal area networks (PANs), local area networks (LANs), campus area networks (CANs), or metropolitan area networks (MANs) which are usually limited to a room, building, campus or specific metropolitan area (e.g., a city) respectively.

Advantages Of WAN

-Messages can be sent very quickly to anyone else on the network. These messages can have pictures, sounds, or data included with them (called attachments).
-Expensive things (such as printers or phone lines to the internet) can be shared by all the computers on the network without having to buy a different peripheral for each computer.
-Everyone on the network can use the same data. This avoids problems where some users may have older information than others.
-Share information/files over a larger area

Disadvantages Of WAN

-Setting up a network can be an expensive and complicated experience. The bigger the network the more expensive it is.
-Security is a real issue when many different people have the ability to use information from other computers. Protection against hackers and viruses adds more complexity and expense.
-Once set up, maintaining a network is a full-time job which requires network supervisors and technicians to be employed.
-Information may not meet local needs or interests
-Volunerable to hackers or other outside threats

Difference of WAN and LAN

  • Difference on the basis of scope: WAN is considered to be more vast and widespread. WAN is meant for networking between wide geographical regions like between two cities or even across different time zones while LAN is mainly used for private connectivity among residential offices or a single edifice. Hence a small scale WAN can be developed by creating many LANs.

  • Difference on the basis of connections: In case of LAN, Ethernet is the main device which is used for connecting the workstations or the computers. Ethernet is a bus based protocol device in which cables and wires and permanent. Ethernet helps is the interconnection of the different types of LANs. While in the case of WAN, common carriers are usually used and most people opt in for service providers. When it comes to the speed of both the network technologies, a LAN is usually faster as it is confined to a small space with servers in a nearby location.