Computer networks are all around us. Whether you’re at home or in the workplace, there’s probably at least one computer network to which you can connect. With a network connection, you’ll be able to communicate with other computers. There are different types of computer networks, however. While you might be familiar with some of them, there are other computer networks that may surprise you. Below is a list of five of the most common types of computer networks.

#1) Local Area Network (LAN)

Perhaps the most well-known network type is local area network (LAN). A LAN is a collection of computers — as well as other devices — that are connected together in a small space. LANs are commonly found in homes and workplaces. Assuming two or more computers have a network adapter, they can be connected together via an ethernet cable or Wi-Fi, resulting in a LAN.

#2) Personal Area Network (PAN)

PAN is a type of computer network that’s even smaller than LAN. It’s the smallest type of computer network, in fact. PANs are characterized by a range of about 10 to 30 meters. They are designed to connect a user’s devices within his or her immediate vicinity. PANs are commonly used to connect computers, mobile devices, printers, smart wearables and other personal electronics.

#3) Wide Area Network (WAN)

Of course, there are also wide area networks (WANs). A WAN is best described as a collection of LANs. As previously mentioned, LANs are collections of computers and other devices that are connected via ethernet cables or Wi-Fi. WANs are simply groups or collections of LANs. The internet, for instance, is considered a WAN. It consists of countless individual LANs, all of which are connected. Most LANs are connected to a WAN, with the most common being the internet.

#4) Metropolitan Area Network

When researching the different types of computer networks, you may come across metropolitan area network (MAN). MANs fall somewhere between LANs and WANs. They are larger than LANS, but MANs are smaller than WANs. In most cases, MANs cover a building or campus. They are typically managed by a small team of information technology (IT) professionals.

#5) Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Virtual private network (VPN) has become a common type of computer network. It’s one of the most unique types of computer networks. All VPNs require an existing computer network to function. They designed to extend a private LAN across a public WAN. With a VPN, you can extend your own LAN across the internet, resulting in increased privacy like Internet Protocol (IP) address masking.

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