A computer network or simply a network refers to any number of independent computer systems that are interconnected to make data exchange feasible. For this, in addition to a physical connection, there must also be a logical connection between the networked systems — the latter produced by specific network protocols, such as the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP ). Even only two computers connected can be considered as a network.
The networks are set up, in particular, to transfer data from one system to another or to provide shared resources such as servers, databases or a printer on the network. Depending on the size and scope of the computer network, it is possible to differentiate and categorize systems. The following are the main categories of computer networks:
6 Types of Computer Networks : Quick Guide
- Personal Area Network (PAN) or personal network
- Local Area Network (LAN) or Local Area Network
- Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) or Metropolitan Network
- Wide Area Network (WAN) or Wide Area Network
- Global Area Network (GAN) or global network
The physical connection that connects these types of networks can be wired (wired) or made using wireless technology. In many cases, physical communication networks form the basis of several logical networks, called virtual private networks (VPNs ). These utilize a standard physical transmission means, for example an optical fiber cable and, when transferring data, is assigned to logically different virtual networks using VPN software creating a tunnel (or tunneling software ).
Each type of network has developed for specific application areas — a network-based on own techniques and standards, providing different benefits and limitations.
Personal Area Network (PAN)
To enable data exchange of modern devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, or desktops, they can connect to a suitable network. It can join in the form of a personal network or PAN ( Personal Area Network ), it is also called home network. Standard transmission techniques are USB or FireWire. The Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN)) relies on technologies like Bluetooth, USB wireless, INSTEON, IrDA, ZigBee or Z-Wave. A personal wireless network that can make via Bluetooth is called “Piconet.” WPANs and PANs usually only cover a few meters and are not suitable for connecting devices in different rooms or buildings.
In addition to the communication of several devices with each other, a personal network also allows the connection to other systems, usually more significant. We are talking in this case of an Uplink or uplink. Due to the limited scope and relatively low rate of data transfer, NAPs are mainly used to connect peripherals for recreational use. Typical examples are wireless headphones, game consoles, and digital cameras. In the context of the Internet of Things (idO), IoT Internet of Things), WPANs used for communication, control, and monitoring of low data rate applications. Protocols like INSTEON, Z-Wave, and ZigBee designed for home automation.
Local Area Network (LAN)
If multiple computers are to join on a network, this is usually in the form of a Local Area Network (LAN ). Such a network can connect two computers in a house or several hundred devices within a company. But also networks in public institutions like administrations, schools, or universities are generally implemented in the form of a LAN. A widespread common standard for wired LANs is the Ethernet protocol. Other less common and sometimes obsolete technologies are Arcnet, FDDI, and Token Ring. The transmission of data is done electronically based on copper cables or via fiber optic cables.
If more than two computers are nested together in a local area network, additional components such as a hub, bridge, or switch (network switch) are needed and then act as bridging elements and distribution nodes. A LAN is designed to allow fast transfer of large amounts of data. Depending on the structure of the network and the transmission medium used, a data rate of 10 to 1000 Mbit / s is standard. Local networks allow a comfortable exchange of information between the different devices connected to the network. In the context of a business, it is common for many work computers to share file servers, network printers, or applications on the LAN.
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)
A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) is a broadband telecommunication network that connects several LANs. These are typically different branches of a company that connects to a MAN via leased lines. High-performance routers and high-performance optical fiber connections are used to provide a much higher data rate than the Internet. The speed of transmission between two remote nodes is comparable to the communication in a local network. As a metropolitan network, cable cities can integrate into extensive area networks: Wide Area Networks (WANs)) and internationally at the Global Area Networks (GAN ) level.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
While metropolitan networks connect areas that are close to each other in rural or urban regions, extensive area networks (WANs ) span massive geographical places across a country or region. A continent for example. In principle, the number of local area networks or computers connected to a vast area network is unlimited.
While local area networks (LANs) and MANs can make due to the geographical proximity of connected computers or networks based on Ethernet, WANs use techniques such as IP / MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching), PDH ( Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy), SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy), SONET (Synchronous Optical Network), ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and still rarely the obsolete X.25.
Extended networks owned by an organization or company and are therefore privately or rented. Also, ISPs use WANs to connect local area networks of companies and customers to the Internet.
Global Area Network (GAN)
A global network like the Internet is also called Globe Area Network (GAN ). The Internet is not the only computer network of its kind. Internationally active companies also maintain isolated networks that span multiple WANs and thereby connect corporate computers worldwide. GANs use the fiber optic infrastructures of wide-area networks and combine them with international submarine cables or satellite transmissions.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A virtual private network (VPN) is a virtual communication network that uses the infrastructure of a physical interface to logically connected computer systems. It can be any network detailed above; however Internet is the most commonly used means of transmission. It connects almost all computers around the world and remains available for free as opposed to private operation of a MAN or WAN. The data transferred within a virtual tunnel built between a VPN client and a VPN server.