Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was very popular (and also extremely unpopular) for a group of 20-somethings to get together and host a LAN party.
Each person lugged a personal computer to a designated location, plugged it into the same network, and played some serious games together.
These “extreme gamers” benefitted from high speeds and real-time interactions — which apparently made the gaming experience extra special.
But (thankfully), that’s not the only thing LAN is known and used for. It also has a place in the world of business.
In simple terms, a LAN is where a group of computers connect their devices to a shared communications line or server (typically using WiFi or ethernet). By doing so, they create a [L]ocal [A]rea [N]etwork.
A LAN can be as small or as big as you want or need it to be — from three computers in a dirty, dark basement to 100 devices in a brightly-lit skyscraper. The more access points or switches your network uses, the more distance your LAN can cover and the more devices your LAN can accommodate.
These devices can be stationary (like printers, fax machines, and servers), and depending on your admin setup, other devices can connect and disconnect to a LAN at will (like mobile phones, tablets, and laptops).But aside from extra special gaming experiences, what else can your team accomplish with the help of a LAN?
We’re glad you asked.
Your team can share basically anything on a LAN.
LANs are pretty much the biggest advocates of sharing. EVER. So if sharing is important to your team, then a LAN is where it’s at.
For starters, these bad boys give you the power to connect your computers or laptops to shared resources like printers and fax machines.
In other words, one printer can interact with many devices.
This resource sharing also flows into applications, software, files, and internet access.
Yes, that’s right. Applications.
Download an application once and you’re good to go across multiple devices.
Let’s say that this office has two printers and one fax machine. There are five computers, and two customer service tablets remain at the front desk.
Employees use personal smartphones and laptops to complete on-the-go work and to handle miscellaneous items from various meeting rooms and locations throughout the office.
All stationary devices are permanently connected to the LAN, and all devices can interact with each other. Computers one through five can all print to printers one or two, and computer one can use the same applications as computer five.
When an employee brings a laptop into the office, that employee can print from both printers, share files with stationary computers, and hop onto the same internet connection.
It’s simple, seamless, and quick.
A LAN can give you more control.
Everything that can be shared and accessed on a LAN can be controlled from one central location.
This means that you don’t need to sacrifice security to achieve a high degree of both mobility and collaboration.
From this central location, you can monitor user activity, update resources, and manage who has access to what, when, and with what devices.
Employees can communicate faster on a LAN.
Consider two employees using devices connected to the same local network.
Imagine how quickly these two employees can communicate with each other (share files and move data from one device to another).
In this case, it’s device-to-device communication — fast and uninterrupted.
Now, if those same two employees weren’t connected to the same LAN, this process would take slightly longer. That information would be forced to jump to and from multiple points before it could be handed off to the next device.
When it comes to a LAN, data can be transmitted much quicker because devices and resources are connected directly to each other, and typically, this data is only transmitted a very short distance.
Makes sense, right?
The benefits of LAN extend far beyond that of shared resources and more efficient communication processes. If you’d like to learn more about these benefits, take a look at our latest explanation.