Definition local area network (LAN) This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Essential guide to business continuity and disaster recovery plans Sponsored News Fight Infrastructure Growth and Complexity With Converged Systems –Dell Top 5 Questions On Desktop Virtualization and Converged Solutions –Dell See More Vendor Resources Network technology trends for 2012: Wireless LAN and BYOD –Enterasys Myth vs. Reality: Cloud-Managed Wireless LAN and the Primary Access Network –SearchSecurity.com A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and associated devices that share a common communications line or wireless link to a server. Typically, a LAN encompasses computers and peripherals connected to a server within a distinct geographic area such as an office or a commercial establishment. Computers and other mobile devices use a LAN connection to share resources such as a printer or network storage. A local area network may serve as few as two or three users (for example, in a small-office network) or several hundred users in a larger office. LAN networking comprises cables, switches, routers and other components that let users connect to internal servers, websites and other LANs via wide area networks. Ethernet and Wi-Fi are the two primary ways to enable LAN connections. Ethernet is a specification that enables computers to communicate with each other. Wi-Fi uses radio waves to connect computers to the LAN. Other LAN technologies, including Token Ring, Fiber Distributed Data Interface and ARCNET, have lost favor as Ethernet and Wi-Fi speeds have increased. The rise of virtualization has fueled the development of virtual LANs, which allows network administrators to logically group network nodes and partition their networks without the need for major infrastructure changes.
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