An example of a LAN is what a small business uses to connect their computers together.
Origin of LANl(ocal) a(rea) n(etwork).
top to bottom: bus, star, and ring network configurations
lan - Computer Definition
A LAN is a packet network designed to interconnect host computers, peripherals, storage devices, and other computing resources within a local area, i.e., limited distance. LANs conform to the client/server architecture, a distributed computing architecture that runs applications on client microcomputers against one or more centralized servers, which are high-performance multiport computers with substantial processing power and large amounts of memory. A LAN might serve an office, a floor of a building, and entire building, or a campus area, but generally does not cross a public right-ofway such as a street.The distance limitation generally is in the range of a few kilometers, at most, although that is sensitive to the transmission media employed, which include coaxial cable, twisted pair, optical fiber, infrared (IR) light, and radio frequency (RF) systems. Raw bandwidth ranges up to 10 Gbps, although actual throughput generally is much less. LANs generally are private networks, although public wireless hotspots offering wireless Internet access currently are popular. Most LAN standards are set by the 802 Working Group of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), with examples being 802.3 (Ethernet) and 802.11a/b/g (Wi-Fi).A personal area network (PAN) such as Bluetooth, is much more limited in geographic scope than a LAN. LANs and LAN segments can be interconnected over a metropolitan area network (MAN) or wide area network (WAN). LANs operate at Layer 1, the Physical Layer, and Layer 2, the Data Link Layer, of the OSI Reference Model. See also 802.3, 802.5, 802.11, architecture, bandwidth, Bluetooth, client/server, coaxial cable, Data Link Layer, Ethernet, hotspot, IEEE, IR, MAN, optical fiber, OSI Reference Model, PAN, Physical Layer, RF, throughput, Token Ring, twisted pair, WAN, and Wi-Fi.
(Local Area Network) A communications network that is typically confined to a building or premises. The "clients" are user workstations running the Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems, while the "servers" hold programs and data shared by the clients. Servers come in a wide range of sizes from PC-based servers to mainframes. A LAN is a local network, whereas a WAN (wide area network) spans long distances. See WAN. Thick and Thin Clients In a company LAN, the client machines are mostly Windows-based PCs that contain a variety of installed applications. These "thick" clients are the norm; however, some organizations use "thin" clients, which are stripped-down machines. Windows terminals are also used, which are PCs that act like input/output terminals to a central server and perform no business processing on their own. See thin client and Remote Desktop Services. The Network OS The software that enables sharing is the network operating system in the servers, typically running Windows, Linux or Unix. A component part resides in each client operating system, which allows the application in the client to read and write data from the server as if it were on the local machine. Client workstations can also function as a server, allowing users access to data on another user's machine. These peer-to-peer networks are often simpler to install and manage, but dedicated servers provide better performance and handle higher transaction volume. In large networks, multiple dedicated servers are used. The Transport Data transfer over the LAN is typically managed by the TCP/IP transport protocol, and the physical transmission is handled by Ethernet. The actual communications path is twisted pair wire or optical fiber, which physically interconnects each client, server and network device. Using Wi-Fi, the wireless counterpart of Ethernet, clients and servers can connect without cables. See WAN, TCP/IP, Ethernet and client/server.