An Overview of the Three Basic Types of Networks

MatthewA By MatthewA, 22nd Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Technology>Computer Hardware

Networks fall into three main categories: WAN, LAN and MAN networks. These network categories are relatively unique types of networks and ways that computer terminals can be connected. Overall, they have variable hardware requirements, shapes and sizes.


To begin with the LAN. LAN is an acronym for local area network. As such, the LAN is the smallest type of network. Overall, they are usually based in single rooms or offices. Such LANs are required to share local hardware resources such as printers. In addition to this, software resources and files can also be shared via the LAN.

In terms of hardware, the LANs requires network cards to connect local workstations. Network cards such as Ethernet are well established for LANs. In addition to this, LANs will also likely share hardware resources such as printers and other peripherals, so that many terminals can make use of the same peripherals.

Many LAN networks will also be of more limited access than larger network types. It may be the case that LAN networks be limited to just a handful of authorised personnel. In this respect, a number of LAN networks may have password protection and assigned users. Therefore, a password and user name may need to be entered first.

So these are the three basic network types. MAN, LAN and WAN are quite simply, big, little and large!


The Wan is a wide area network. As such, geographically a WAN is the largest type of network and one that spans a broad area. Therefore, unlike LANs WANs do not share hardware resources and peripherals such as printers.

As such, the Wan is a network that has many interconnected workstation over vaster distances. Early research into WANs emerged in the '60s by the US military, whereby communications could still be maintained in the event of a nuclear strike. Therefore, the emphasis of WANs is more on e-mail and messaging.

Aside from this, WANs can have more variable connections and do not require network cards. Leased lines are one approach. Others include circuit switching, packet switching, and call relay.


A third network is that of MAN. This stands for metropolitan area network. Essentially, geographically it is more of an in between between LAN and WANs. In this respect, MANs are larger than LANs, but smaller than WANs. Such networks may connect workstations over a city.

As such, the Mans can provide inter-connectivity with WANs. In this respect, MANs provide up-link services to WANs.


Lan, Networks, Wan

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author avatar MatthewA
Matthew is the author of the book Battles of the Pacific War 1941 - 1945. You can find further details at

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