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Characteristics of Local Area Network (LAN)

A computer network that incorporates personal computers and inter-connected workstations within a small area, such as school, office, or home and where accessing and sharing data and devices anywhere is possible from the likes of scanners, printers, storage, and devices is referred to as Local Area Network (LAN).

While characterized as lacking any communication lines, LAN integrates higher data transfer rates and communication. For a small office, a LAN may serve two or three users and for a larger one, hundreds of users. Cables, routers, switches, and various other components that ensure users could connect to websites and internal servers are some LAN networks. 

Wi-Fi and Ethernet are how one could get a LAN connection. The latter is a specification that allows computers to correspond or communicate with one another and to connect computers to LAN; Wi-Fi uses radio waves. Token Ring, Interface, ARCNET and Fiber Distributed Data are LAN technologies that are no longer favored as Wi-Fi and Ethernet speeds have increased. With virtualization on the rise, virtual LANs have come into existence too and enable network administrators to group network nodes logically and separate networks without feeling the need to do any significant changes in infrastructure.

The core characteristics that differentiate one LAN from another include:

Topology: The positioning of devices on the network geometrically. For instance, arrangements of devices in a straight line or in a ring form.

Protocols: Rules and indoctrination of specifications for transmitting data. Protocols also ascertain whether the network uses a peer-to-client or peer-to-peer server framework.

Media: Coaxial cables, fiber optic cables or twisted-pair wire can be used to connect devices. Some networks do not require media connection rather use radio waves.

A LAN server can have various applications kept in it and those users for regularly need these applications can download and then use their local devices to run the application. Users can also order various services and printing as needed through the applications that are run on the LAN server. While a network administrator maintains the access to reading and writing, users can share files with whomsoever stored on the server. If internal applications and data are safeguarded from external access, then the LAN server can be used as a web server.         

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a computing network that interlinks computers in the same geographic area, like that of a house or school, connected through Ethernet lines or wireless links to servers. LAN connections may serve as few as three or four devices or hundreds of devices if the need arises. The network comprises of cabling, network switches, and routers, enabling devices to share resources amongst each other, such as internal servers, printers, etc. Most of the residential LAN systems use one router that creates a network and manages all the connected devices. Typically, the router is connected to a DSL modem or a directly to a fiber-optic cable, which provides the internet access needed. It is also possible to connect multiple LAN, to create a larger network known as virtual LAN or VLAN.

The first LAN networks have been around since the 1960s, where universities and colleges began using them. Once Xerox developed the Ethernet cable, it quickly became the standard for LAN connections after its introduction in 1976. Today, LAN uses Ethernet cables for communication; these run on special grades of twisted pair cables or fiber optic cables. While this is most common for PCs, Apple Macintosh networks are based on Apple’s AppleTalk network system that is built into the Macintosh computers.

When in the network, every individual computer functions as a node, which has its own CPU that executes programs.  Users on a LAN can communicate with each other over the network, either by email or by engaging in a chat session. The biggest advantage of using a LAN is that software, hardware, and files can all be shared between the devices on the network. This makes things much easier while also negating the need to buy multiples, therefore reducing cost. Sharing things over this network can be done at much higher speeds, without the need to connect to the internet first.

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