Publish Date: June 17, 2015

Types of Networks

A computer network can be characterized by its physical capacity or its organizational purpose.There are so many different types of networks today according to their coverage area.

  • Local Area Network (LAN)

    A local area network consists of a computer network at a single floor or building. A LAN is very useful for sharing resources, such as data storage and printers. LANs can be built with relatively inexpensive hardware such as switches and ethernet cables.

  • Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

    A metropolitan area network consists of a computer network across an entire city, college campus or small region. A MAN is larger than a LAN. Depending on the configuration, this type of network can cover an area from several miles to tens of miles. A MAN is often used to connect several LANs together to form a bigger network. When this type of network is specifically designed for a college campus, it is also referred to as a campus area network (CAN).

  • Wide Area Network (WAN)

    A wide area network covers a very large area, such as an entire country or the entire world. A WAN can contain multiple smaller networks, such as LANs or MANs. The best example of a WAN is internet.

  • Personal Area Network (PAN)

    A personal area network is a computer network used for communication among computer and different devices like personal computers, printers, fax machines, telephones, PDAs, scanners, smartphones and even video game consoles. A PAN may include wired and wireless devices. The reach of a PAN typically extends to 10 meters. A wired PAN is usually constructed with USB and FireWire connections while technologies such as Bluetooth and infrared communication typically form a wireless PAN.

  • Storage Area Network (SAN)

    A storage area network is a dedicated network that provides access to consolidated, block level data storage. SANs are primarily used to make storage devices, such as disk arrays and optical jukeboxes, accessible to servers so that the devices appear like locally attached devices to the operating system. A SAN typically has its own network of storage devices that are generally not accessible through the local area network by other devices. It is now being used by both enterprise and small to medium-sized business environments because of its reduced cost.

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    A virtual private network is an network in which some of the links between nodes are carried by open connections or virtual circuits in some larger network (like internet) instead of by physical wires. The data link layer protocols of the virtual network are said to be tunneled through the larger network when this is the case. One common application is secure communications through the public Internet, but a VPN need not have explicit security features, such as authentication or content encryption.

Network Types according to Organizational scope

Networks are typically managed by the organizations that own them.


An intranet is a set of networks that are under the control of a single administrative entity. The intranet uses the IP protocol and IP-based tools such as web browsers and file transfer applications. The administrative entity limits use of the intranet to its authorized users. Most commonly, an intranet is the internal LAN of an organization. A large intranet typically has at least one web server to provide users with organizational information. An intranet is also anything behind the router on a local area network.


An extranet is a network that is also under the administrative control of a single organization, but supports a limited connection to a specific external network. For example, an organization may provide access to some aspects of its intranet to share data with its business partners or customers. These other entities are not necessarily trusted from a security standpoint. Network connection to an extranet is often, but not always, implemented via WAN technology.


An internetwork is the connection of multiple computer networks via a common routing technology using routers. The Internet is the largest example of an internetwork. It is a global system of interconnected governmental, academic, corporate, public, and private computer networks. It is based on the networking technologies of the Internet Protocol Suite. It is the successor of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) developed by United States Department of Defense.


Microsoft Certified | Cisco Certified