LAN vs WAN – Difference Between Them

Key Difference between LAN and WAN

  • LAN has a higher data transfer rate, whereas WAN has a lower data transfer rate.
  • LAN is a computer network that covers a small geographic area, like a home, office, or group of buildings, while WAN is a computer network that covers a broader area.
  • The speed of LAN is high, whereas the speed of WAN is slower than LAN.
  • LAN offers more fault tolerance, but WAN offers less fault tolerance in WAN.
  • LAN design and maintenance is easy on the other hand, WAN design and maintenance is difficult.

What is LAN?

Local Area Network is a group of computer and peripheral devices that are connected in a limited area such as a school, laboratory, home, or office building. The full form of LAN is Local Area Network, which is a widely useful network for sharing resources like files, printers, games, and other applications. The simplest type of LAN network is to connect computers and a printer in someone’s home or office. In general, LAN will be used as one type of transmission medium.

What is WAN?

WAN (Wide Area Network) is an important computer network that is spread across a large geographical area. WAN network systems could be a connection of a LAN that connects with other LAN’s using telephone lines and radio waves. It is mostly limited to an enterprise or an organization. Wide area networks are mostly established with high-end telecommunication circuits.

LAN vs WAN: Difference Between Them

Here are the main differences between LAN and WAN

Tend to use specific connectivity technologies, like ethernet and token. WANs uses technologies like Frame Relay and X.25 for connectivity for the longer distances
LAN is a computer network that covers a small geographic area, like a home, office, or group of buildings. WAN is a computer network that covers a broad area. For example, any network whose communications links cross-regional and metropolitan boundaries over a long distance.
There is a need to set up a couple of extra devices on the network, so it is not very expensive. In WAN networks as remote areas have to be connected, hence the set-up costs are higher.
LAN has a higher data transfer rate. WAN has a lower data transfer rate as compares to LAN.
Ownership of LAN is private. WAN’s ownership can be private or public.
The speed of LAN is high. The speed of WAN is slower than LAN.
The propagation delay time is short in LAN. The propagation delay in WAN is long(longer than LAN).
It offers more fault tolerance. It offers less fault tolerance in WAN.
Its design and maintenance is easy. Its design and maintenance is difficult.

Application of LAN

Application of LAN

Here, are some common applications of LAN:

  • One of the computers in a network can be assigned as a server, which allows managing all other computers.
  • LAN allows software to be stored on the server and which can be used by all the users of the network.
  • It helps you to connect all the workstations in a building to let them communicate with each other locally without the need of internet access.
  • Helps to share resource like printers and scanners
  • Software developers can also use LAN network for sharing development/testing tools within an office or within a factory with the help of the client-server model of the networking system.

Application of WAN

Application of WAN

Here, are some common applications of WAN:

  • The head of the department of corporate office wants to share some data with their regional office associates, and then they can share data by saving it on the centralized node.
  • Military operations need a highly secured network for communication. WAN is used for this scenario.
  • Railways reservation and airlines use WAN networks.
  • Dean and the lecturer of the university can easily share data or resources with each other as they share one common network.
  • WAN allows workstations to be connected locally, which helps each node to communicate with one another without having any internet connection.
  • The resources like printers, scanners, hard-disk, and fax machines allow you to share all the nodes publicly.

Advantages of LAN

Here are pros/benefits of using LAN:

  • Computer resources like hard-disks, DVD-ROM, and printers can share local area networks that significantly reduces the cost of hardware purchases.
  • You can use the same software over the network instead of purchasing the licensed software for each client in the network.
  • Data of all network users can be stored on a single hard disk of the server computer.
  • You can easily transfer data and messages over networked computers.
  • It will be easy to manage data at only one place, which makes data more secure.
  • Local Area Network offers the facility to share a single internet connection among all the LAN users.

Advantages of WAN

Here, are pros/cons of using WAN:

  • WAN helps you to cover a larger geographical area therefore business offices situated at longer distances can easily communicate.
  • Contains devices like mobile phones, laptop, tablet, computers, gaming consoles, etc.
  • WLAN connections work using radio transmitters and receivers built into client devices.
  • Shares software and resources by connecting with various workstations.
  • Share information/files over a larger area.

Disadvantages of LAN

Here are the cons/ drawbacks of LAN:

  • The LAN admin can check personal data files of every LAN user, so it does not offer good privacy.
  • LAN network helps you to save the cost because of shared computer resources. However, the initial cost of installing Local Area Networks is quite high.
  • Unauthorized users can access critical data of the company in case LAN admin is not able to secure a centralized data repository.
  • Local Area Network needs constant LAN administration as there are issues related to software setup and hardware failures

Disadvantages of WAN

Here, are drawbacks/cons of using WAN:

  • The initial set up cost of is WAN network is high
  • It is difficult to maintain the WAN network as you need skilled technicians and network administrators.
  • It requires more time to resolve issues because of the involvement of multiple wired and wireless technologies.
  • WAN network offers lower security compared to other types of networks.