You are in the: Small Business Computing Channelarrow
Small Business Technology
Enter a word for a definition... ...or choose a computer category.

   Term of the Day
   New Terms
   New Links
   Quick Reference
   Did You Know?
   Search Tool
   Tech Support
   Webopedia Jobs
   About Us
   Link to Us

talk to us
   Submit a URL
   Suggest a Term
   Report an Error
Internet Lists
Internet News
Internet Resources
Linux/Open Source
Small Business
Windows Technology
Wireless Internet
xSP Resources

Corporate Info
Tech Jobs
E-mail Offers
  Be a Commerce Partner

local-area network
Last modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 

A computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings. However, one LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves. A system of LANs connected in this way is called a wide-area network (WAN).

Most LANs connect workstations and personal computers. Each node (individual computer ) in a LAN has its own CPU with which it executes programs, but it also is able to access data and devices anywhere on the LAN. This means that many users can share expensive devices, such as laser printers, as well as data. Users can also use the LAN to communicate with each other, by sending e-mail or engaging in chat sessions.

There are many different types of LANs Ethernets being the most common for PCs. Most Apple Macintosh networks are based on Apple's AppleTalk network system, which is built into Macintosh computers.

The following characteristics differentiate one LAN from another:

  • topology : The geometric arrangement of devices on the network. For example, devices can be arranged in a ring or in a straight line.
  • protocols : The rules and encoding specifications for sending data. The protocols also determine whether the network uses a peer-to-peer or client/server architecture.
  • media : Devices can be connected by twisted-pair wire, coaxial cables, or fiber optic cables. Some networks do without connecting media altogether, communicating instead via radio waves.
  • LANs are capable of transmitting data at very fast rates, much faster than data can be transmitted over a telephone line; but the distances are limited, and there is also a limit on the number of computers that can be attached to a single LAN.

    E-mail this definition to a colleague

    Sponsored listings

    Lexi Technology: LAN Design - Provider of LAN/WAN design, implementation and help desk support services. Specializing in the healthcare industry.

    Gateway: Wireless LAN - Provides wireless LAN products and services, including wireless access points and adapters, network planning, and consulting.

    Positive Networks Inc.: LAN Technology - Offers remote access services with clientless SSL, true VPN connectivity, and LAN compatibility. Integrates with LAN security configurations.

    For pages about local-area network . Also check out the following links!

    Related Links

    Ethernet tutorial 
    Contains an in-depth introduction to local area networks from Lantronix.

    LAN Times Online 
    The LAN Times online publication offers current news and analysis on the networking industry, along with links to trade shows and events, career development, and information on UnixWorld.

    Simple Guide to Building a Home LAN 
    An article from Sharky Extreme's Hardware Guide.

    The Truth About Servers 
    What makes a server a server? Is there a difference between an e-mail server and a messaging server? Should a firewall be considered a server in certain circumstances? These questions and more are answered in an extensive tutorial that cuts through the marketing hype and explains the basics of key server types.

    ARCNET Trade Association home page
    Home page for ARCNET Trade Association, a non-profit organization of ARCNET users and manufacturers. This site provides a history of ARCNET, links to technical publications, membership information, directories, and product information.

    Cable testers buyers directory
    Offers a collection of links to cable tester companies and products. This page is hosted by LAN Times Online.

    Provides answers to questions on CD-ROM networking solutions and links to related newsgroups, publications, and FTP sites.

    Data communication links
    Collection of links to LAN, WAN and serial communications resources from Data Comm for Business, Inc.

    LAN properties
    Briefly describes LAN properties with a link to information on Ethernet.

    Usenet Local Area Network (LAN) FAQs
    Provides links to several LAN FAQs taken from usenet newsgroups. Some of the main topics include: data communications cabling, ethernet LAN, and LAN mail protocols.

    Yahoo!'s local-area network (LAN) page
    Yahoo!'s directory of local-area network.

    Sponsored listings

    RADirect: LAN Network Equipment - Providers of LAN Extension products for fiber, 2-wire/4-wire or ATM infrastructures. Suitable for GigE, Fast Ethernet and Ethernet extension.

    Planet Ten: Data Systems - Provides complete solutions that allows hosting companies to improve operation via remote power management capabilities.

    St. Bernard Software: LAN Hardware - Offers the iPrism Internet access management appliance for filtering Web sites. Monitors, filters and reports on Internet access. US and Canada only.

    Frontline Test Equipment: Local Area Network Test Equipment - Offers data communication network test equipment, including Ethertest, a PC-based Ethernet protocol analyzer.

    eBay: HP LAN (Local-Area Networking) - Online marketplace for buying and selling HP lan (local-area networking).

    related categories

    Business Computing

    Network Topologies


    related terms

    5-4-3 rule



    attenuation crosstalk ratio



    client/server architecture







    IEEE 802 standards




    logical topology




    network interface card

    network operating system

    network-attached storage


    Give Us Your

    local_area_network_LAN Products
    Compare Products,Prices and Stores

    Shop by Category:
    Desk Accessories
    43 Store Offers

    Tools and Hardware
    4 Store Offers

    JupiterWeb networks:


    Search JupiterWeb:

    Jupitermedia Corporation has four divisions:
    JupiterWeb, JupiterResearch, JupiterEvents and JupiterImages

    Copyright 2004 Jupitermedia Corporation All Rights Reserved.
    Legal Notices, Licensing, Reprints, & Permissions, Privacy Policy.

    Jupitermedia Corporate Info | Newsletters | Tech Jobs | E-mail Offers