What is the Difference Between LAN and WAN?

What is the Difference Between LAN and WAN?

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Updated on Dec 21, 2023 18:49 IST

A LAN is like a small neighborhood of connected devices, usually in one building or home. It’s fast and uses things like Wi-Fi. On the other hand, a WAN is much bigger, connecting many LANs. It can stretch across cities or even countries. The main difference? LANs are for small areas, while WANs cover big areas. In this blog, we will discuss more on the difference between LAN and WAN.


Imagine LAN as the Wi-Fi in your house. It connects all the gadgets at home, like your phone, computer, and TV. It’s meant for short distances. WAN is like a superhighway connecting different houses, towns, or countries. The big internet helps cities or even countries talk to each other. So, while LAN is your home’s little network, WAN is the big network for much larger areas. Let’s see how they’re different!

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Table of Contents

Difference between LAN and WAN (WAN vs LAN)

Benchmark LAN WAN
Full Form The full form of LAN is ‘Local Area Network’. WAN stands for ‘Wide Area Network’.
Area covered Covers a small and limited area, such as home, school, and office. It Covers a large geographical area, such as cities or nations.
Ownership Ownership is private. A single person or organization owns, manages, and uses it. It can be private or public (collective or distributed ownership).
Data transfer rate Higher data transfer rate (up to 1000mbps).         Lower data transfer rate compared to LAN (up to 150mbps).
Speed The speed is higher than WAN.              Speed is slower than LAN.
Congestion Congestion is less. Congestion is more.
Technologies used It uses technologies such as Ethernet and Token Ring. WAN uses technologies such as Frame Relay, MPLS, and ATM.
Propagation delay The propagation delay is short. The propagation delay is long.
Fault tolerance LAN has more fault tolerance.    WAN has less fault tolerance.
Connected via A LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance with the help of telephone lines and radio waves.      Devices in a wide-area network are connected via telephone systems, leased lines, or satellites.
Example An example of LAN is the network in an office building. An example of WAN is the Internet.

What is LAN (Local Area Network)?

LAN refers to a group of computer and peripheral devices connected in one limited location. They can be small or large. It could be a home network with one user or an enterprise network with thousands of devices and users in an office. Private ownership controls the local area network.

A Local Area Network consists of switches, routers, cables, access points, etc., enabling network devices to connect to internal servers, web servers, and other LANs through wide area networks. It is best for sharing resources such as printers, files, games, and other applications. We can implement LAN using Ethernet LAN (Wired connection) and WLAN (Wireless).

Advantages of LAN

  • Resource sharing: It enables easy sharing of resources, such as hard disk drives and printers. It reduces the cost of hardware purchases.
  • Software sharing: Easy to use the same software on several devices connected to a computer.
  • Internet sharing: Allows single internet connection sharing among all LAN users.
  • Centralized data: Data of all network users can be stored in a central computer. It enables users to access the required data whenever required.
  • Streamlined Communication: Messages and data can be easily shared between computers connected to the network.
  • Less Expensive: It does not cost too much.
  • Easy of Use: Easy to set up a security protocol to safeguard LAN users from hackers.

Disadvantages of LAN

  • Covers limited area: LAN covers a small geographical area such as an office, building, home, etc.
  • Violation of Privacy: A LAN administrator can see every LAN user’s data files and internet history.
  • High maintenance: Requires a high degree of maintenance and constant upgrades by expert technicians.

Also Read: Difference Between Internet and Intranet

What is WAN (Wide Area Network)?

A WAN is a group of LANs or other networks that communicate with one another. It is a network of networks that enables communication and information sharing between devices worldwide.

For more information, you can also explore: What Is WAN and How Does It Function?

It enables organizations to create networks, enabling employees, customers, and other stakeholders to work together online, irrespective of location. A WAN is not confined to a geographical location. However, it might be confined within a state or country.

WANs are usually high-speed and expensive. The Internet is the largest public WAN.

Advantages of WAN

  • Enables sharing of resources and application software among users.
  • Covers a larger geographical area.
  • Supports global markets and global businesses.

Disadvantages of WAN

  • Due to the use of more technologies and wide-area coverage, it faces more security issues than LAN.
  • Higher investment cost.
  • Difficult to maintain the network. It requires skilled technicians and network administrators.
  • Troubleshooting WAN can be time-consuming and difficult.

Also Read: Difference Between Hardware and Software

Bottom Line

In this article, we have learned what is lan and wan. LAN (Local Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network) are two types of computer networks. They facilitate interconnectivity between computers. While LAN networks offer smaller and more localized networking, WANs offer more widespread connectivity. LANs are comparatively faster and more secure than WANs.


What is LAN Topology?

LAN topology or Local Area Network topology is the physical and logical manner in which devices and network segments are interconnected. There are three basic topologies of LAN : Star Topology, Bus Topology and Ring Topology.

How to secure a LAN (Local Area Network)?

Some of the ways to secure a LAN include installing a firewall behind a single access point (wireless router) and using security protocols such as WPA or WPA2.

What are the applications of LAN?

The most common applications of LAN include using LAN network at home to access the internet, sharing of resources in offices, schools, and hospitals. High-speed LANs also help in connecting slower networks.

Which is faster, the LAN or the WAN?

Ethernet cabling is highly dependable and significantly faster than WAN speeds.

What are the various types of WAN?

WANs are classified into two types: switched WANs and point-to-point WANs.

What is the best Wide Area Network example?

The Internet is the best example of a Wide Area Network.

What is the difference between LAN and WAN?

The main difference between LAN and WAN is the geographical area they cover. LAN covers a very small area and wan covers a large area. LAN is typically faster and more reliable than WAN. However, WAN allows communication between devices that are far apart.

Can a LAN be connected to a WAN?

Yes, LAN can be connected to a WAN using the router or a gateway.

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