A LAN (Local Area Network) can be a very useful tool in your home if you own more than one computer. A LAN allows for immediate file sharing between computers, shared printers, shared internet connections, even allows you to play multi player games on more than one machine. Although not difficult to install, it is important that you are ready and prepared as little mistakes can result in ineffective use. You should also know ahead of time what method of connection is best for you.
What is a LAN?
LAN stands for Local Area Network. It is a network that is installed on 2 or
more computers, and allows these computers to talk directly with each other. It
is kind of like the internet, but on a much smaller scale. The internet allows
us to connect with computers all along the globe, while a LAN is limited to a
small area, such as a home or office.
LANs are used by businesses as well as personal users to upgrade the
capacity for information transfer, as well as share utilities such as a printer
or an internet connection. Through a LAN you can also directly connect
computers together in order to play in multi player computer games, such as
Half-Life or WarCraft III.
When the computers are connected together, there are two primary types of
connections. The first of these is a client/server network. What this means is
that one computer is the server, which hosts the majority of the information
and directs all information. If you have 5 computers on a client/server
network, any computer must first talk to the server in order to talk with any
of the other client computers.
This is contrasted by the peer-to-peer network, where all computers are seen
as equal in the connection, and any computer can talk directly to any other
computer. If your network only has two or three computers, the difference
between these two network types is minimal.
A LAN requires two components: a hardware and a software component. The
hardware is the actual physical connection that allows your computers to
communicate with each other. The software component involves the proper
configuring of the two systems so that they are in sync with each other once
the physical connection is made.