LAN Diagram Complete Guide
Edraw Content Team
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In computing, a network comprises two or more devices connected to allow users to communicate electronically, exchange files, and share resources easily. While many types of networks are being used nowadays to facilitate information exchange between computers and devices linked together, like MANs and WANs, a LAN network is the most commonly used in the IT space. Since a LAN network, especially in big organizations, is made of several computers and devices connected, IT specialists rely on a LAN diagram to visually represent how the network will look before putting it into place.
A clear visualization of the different components of a LAN network is of utmost importance in case of an emergency or a communication problem, for example. With a clear diagram of a LAN network, an IT professional can easily identify where the issue might be and fix it. Drawing LAN diagrams can be done via different tools. Among these is EdrawMax. EdrawMax is a free and user-friendly network diagram drawing tool used by millions of people around the world. It comes with over 2600 symbols and more than 1500 premade templates. In this article, we will take a close look at a LAN network, a LAN diagram, and how to easily draw one using EdrawMax.
1. What is a Local Area Network (LAN)
A local area network, also known as a LAN, is a set of devices, like computers and peripherals, connected to one central server via either WiFi or Ethernet cables. The main server, which houses all these devices, is stored in one specific physical location. The LAN's central physical storage location could be a house, an office, or a whole building, depending on the size of the LAN network.
A local area network can be as small as a single computer with one or two peripherals, installed in a house and controlled by one user, or a large web of computers and peripherals managed by multiple users within a big organization.
A LAN diagram is a visual representation of the arrangement of different components of LAN networks, or what is known in the IT field as nodes, as well as how these components are linked. The arrangement of the different nodes of a LAN diagram is referred to as topologies. A LAN diagram comprises two different topologies, a physical and a logical topology. The physical topology refers to all the devices within the network, from switches to routers and to computers. The logical topology, on the other hand, is a visual representation of how data travels from and to the different nodes of a LAN network.
A LAN diagram is an architectural diagram or a map of a LAN network. IT specialists use it to represent what a LAN would look like, how the nodes within a LAN network are connected, and how data exchange happens between them.
1.1 What is the Local Area Network (LAN) Used for
The first is the easy access to information this type of computer network provides. In a LAN network, a user can easily access data from any computer or any device within the network. For example, in a school-based LAN network, if a user needs urgent access to data stored in any of the school computers linked to the LAN, he or she could easily access the information in need from a laptop or a mobile phone linked to the same network, without having to log in from the computer containing the data.
Secondly, LANs are very useful in exchanging files too. Sharing files within a LAN network makes working as a team much easier. For example, a team member could create a document on his or her main computer and share it with the rest of the team without having to email it or fax it to each one of the members. File sharing is also very useful when it comes to printing files. A user could easily send a file to a printer linked to a LAN network without physically moving to the printer. Using LANs for easy access to data and file-sharing makes them a favorite among individuals and businesses.
1.2 Types of LANs
The Client-Server LAN is a network of multiple clients' devices, and they all are connected with the central server. All the devices in the network are connected with one server either through cables or a wireless connection.
The server performs the heavy tasks for all the connected devices like network traffic management, files access, device and application access, security, authentication, etc. The client connected can perform the tasks as mentioned earlier either with each other or wants access to the internet.
The tasks the user wants to perform are pre-programmed on the server that helps the client do their tasks. The servers are programmed to do database access, email, document sharing, printing, and other services. The network and IT administrator then decides which clients need to write on files and who will read them. The Client-server LANs are used by schools, offices, industries, etc.
There is no central server in this LAN that performs the heavy tasks for the clients like a client-server LAN. These networks are smaller both in size and sometimes in bandwidth too. In a Peer-to-Peer LAN, all devices are connected with each other and perform the tasks for each other. All the devices are functioning the network. This type of LAN is used in homes and places where there is no need for a server.
2. Pros and Cons of Local Area Network (LAN)
Like other networks, a LAN network has its pros and cons. Below, we will look at some of the network's advantages and disadvantages. Let's first begin by going through some of the benefits of using a LAN network.
Pros of LANs:
Cost efficiency: A LAN network saves individuals and businesses a lot of money. Whether you are an individual or a business, there are some apps and programs that you must install on your computer, like text and video editing software, antivirus apps, and cloud storage services. Some of these are cheap, while others are very expensive. If you were to buy each member of your family or team his or her own version of each of these programs and apps, you would spend thousands of dollars every month. You could easily reduce software expenses by switching to a LAN network. With a LAN network, you could buy a single app and have everyone within the network use it at no extra charge.
Easy to share files within a LAN network: File sharing is yet another benefit of a LAN network. It allows users to access and share different types of files with each other, ranging from text, audio, and video files. In addition, on a LAN network, a user could send and receive files from and to any computer within the network.
It makes resource sharing easy: In addition to file sharing, a LAN network allows users to share resources too. Peripherals like scanners, printers, modems, and hard drives, when attached to a LAN network, can be accessed by all computers within the LAN system. This means you don't have to buy a scanner, printer, or any other resource for each computer within the network. All computers connected to a LAN network can share a single resource without affecting these resources' overall speed and performance.
It allows fast communication: In the workplace, ease of communication between departments helps tremendously. LANs provide a fast exchange of messages, data, and files between different computers within the system. This is very helpful, as a team member doesn't have to move from his or her office in case he or she needs something from the other departments.
It gives centralized access to all users: Having access to data makes a LAN network very appealing to big organizations. Having all files stored in one location speeds up operations and saves team members time and hustle. On a LAN network, a file could be created on one computer within the network, and every other computer can access it. A user from a different computer could look at the document, edit it, share it with others, and even print it if they wish to.
It is secure: Having a centralized data center is great, but if it is not secure, there is no point in having it. LAN networks are unlikely to get hacked since all computers within the network are stored on a local server. In addition to having a local server, a LAN network is managed by a host, which he or she could give or revoke access to other users within the network. This adds another layer of protection to the data stored on the server.
Cons of LANs:
Installation cost: While a LAN network user may cut down on expenses related to software and extra resources, a hefty fee should be paid upfront to set up the system. Setting up a LAN network is expensive since you have to pay for hardware, like modems, switches, etc. You also need to pay for special software to keep the LAN running without issues. This requires a big upfront investment, which many people won't be able to afford, especially in the case of LANs comprising many computers and peripherals. In addition to the upfront cost, maintenance fees are required too. For a LAN network, an administrator is usually assigned. The administrator has to monitor the network carefully to catch any potential issues before they arise because they might cost less if discovered earlier.
Server crashes: Although centralized data access a LAN network provides is great, very helpful, and convenient too, if the main server, which houses all the other computers within the network, crashes, no other computer can access the data. Unfortunately, this happens often, and we have seen it happen in the workplace.
Requires Antivirus and Firewall Software: You must activate the firewall on the devices since data hackers can access and modify data transmitted through the internet. These hackers can install a virus on your machine. Therefore, it requires antivirus and firewall software for its safety.
A LAN has a limited coverage area: LANs are not designed to cover long distances. They are usually made for buildings, schools, and homes. They cover no more than 10 km. Users on the network will not be able to access data from a distance of more than 10 km. This limitation stems from how LANs are structured. Whether the devices within a LAN are connected by cable or wireless, both have a limited distance coverage they cannot exceed. While there are a lot of tools and ways to go around this issue, they are not that handy and would result in slow file exchange and communication between the users.
Potential security leaks and privacy violation: Although LANs are set up makes them less susceptible to external attacks, unauthorized users could gain access to data from within the server in case of a glitch or a security leak. Unless a LAN network is well-maintained by the administrator, any small glitch in the code could lead to data theft. Since a sole administrator controls a LAN, he or she could have access to all the users' sensitive data. For example, a LAN administrator can access users' history and downloads. This sometimes can create serious problems if the user, when using the computer, has used any of his or her data. The full control over all other computers LANs provide the administrator with is both good and bad. It all depends on how the administrator uses that privilege. Taking into account the pros and cons of using the network mentioned above can give you an idea of whether a LAN is worth it for you or not.
3. Differences Between LAN, MAN, and WAN
There are a couple of differences between LANs, WANs and MANs. As you can see from the definition of each one of the networks, one of the obvious differences between them is the distance they can cover.
LANs tend to be set up in small spaces, like schools, houses, or small offices, while MANs can span cities and buildings. WANs, on the other hand, are not geographically limited and can cover countries and continents. Therefore, the LAN MAN WAN diagram drawing process tends to be different. MAN and WAN diagrams are more complex than LAN diagrams.
The way computers within these networks are connected is another difference between the three. LANs tend to be connected by either an Ethernet or a wireless connection, while MANs mostly use cables to connect computers. WANs are mostly connected by leased telecommunication circuits.
The third and final difference between the three networks is the speed with which information travels within the network. When it comes to speed of information and file exchange, LANs trump all the others. The internet connection tends to be faster in LANs compared to MANs and WANs, given the small geographical area LANs cover.
3.1 LAN (Local Area Network)
In LAN, there can be desktop computers, laptops, printers, wifi-modem, servers to respond to requests, routers, and switches for connecting two or more LANs, etc. The cables like Ethernet are used to connect all the devices in a LAN. The LAN is used for short areas like the home, offices, schools, etc., but the network's size varies depending on the number of networks connected together, forming one extensive network.
- Cover small areas
- They are connected by Ethernet or WiFi
- Offer faster internet connection
3.2 MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)
MAN (metropolitan area network) is a network of computers and resources set up in a large geographical area that can range from 50 km to around 60 km. MANs are usually several LANs connected together. They are used in a group of buildings, a town or even a city. MANs are larger than LANS but smaller than WANs.
- Span cities, buildings, and towns
- Connected by modems and cables
- Offer average internet connection
3.3 WAN (Wide Area Network)
WAN stands for wide area network. A WAN is a telecommunication network used mostly by organizations to interconnect their offices located in different parts of the world and allow their staff to have access to one centralized data hub. While a MAN network can cover cities and towns, a WAN network has a much larger scope. A WAN network can cover countries and even continents. A privately-owned WAN network is very expensive though. In most cases, a single WAN is owned by several organizations. There are, however, examples of publicly-accessed WANs, like the internet.
- Cover countries and continents
- Use leased lines to connect computers
- Offer slower internet connection
4. How Does a Local Area Network Work
Here is a step-by-step guide on how LANs work:
Step 1: The network components are set up
Computers, peripherals, routers, and switches need to be installed first based on a previously-drawn LAN diagram.
Step 2: The central computer is connected to a network point
Once all the network's components are set up, the main computer is then connected to the internet via a router. Depending on the size of a LAN, additional network switches might be needed.
Step 3: The network's devices are interconnected
Connecting the network's devices to each other is done wirelessly or through Ethernet cables. Once everything is interconnected, the internet is then transferred from the main computer to the rest of the devices. Once this is done, users will then be able to exchange messages, files and have access to data from any device within the network.
5. How to Draw a LAN Diagram in EdrawMax
EdrawMax is a simple, all-around diagram tool that allows you to create LAN network diagrams and other types of diagrams without stress. It contains symbols such as mainframe, terminal, cloud, firewall, comm-link, printer, switch, server, router, bridge, and hub. LAN network diagrams comprise symbols that make visualizing several types of LAN networks easier. There are several ways to draw a LAN network diagram. However, the best method is to use EdrawMax. It is an automated software that allows you to create a unique LAN network diagram in minutes.
Step1 Open EdrawMax and Login
The very first step that you need to follow is to install EdrawMax in your system. Go to EdrawMax Download and download the LAN network diagram software depending upon your operating system. If you need remote collaboration with your office team, head to EdrawMax Online and log in using your registered email address.
Step2 Select a Template
After launching, the Home screen opens by default. Head to the Template bar and search for LAN Network Diagrams in the search box. In-built templates specific to your search will appear on the screen. EdrawMax features a large library of templates. We have more than 25 million registered users who have produced thorough Templates Community for each design. Select the template you like and click Use Immediately to open it in a new window for customization.
Step3 Create From Scratch
From the EdrawMax homepage, you will find the '+' sign that takes you right to the canvas board, from where you can start designing the LAN network diagram from scratch. Coupled with your technical expertise, you can use a wide range of symbols to draw a detailed LAN network diagram.
Step4 Select Symbols
EdrawMax includes a large number of symbol libraries. You may quickly build any type of diagram with over 26,000 vector-enabled symbols. If you can't locate the symbols you need, you can easily import some images/icons or build your own shape and save it as a symbol for later use. Simply go to the 'Symbols' part of EdrawMax and select the 'Predefined Symbol' section from the top toolbar. Hundreds of symbol categories are accessible for you to utilize and incorporate into your LAN network diagram.
Step5 Add Components
After you have sketched out the basic pieces, you may customize the typefaces, colors, and other details by selecting the right or top menu to make your LAN network design more visually appealing. Also, feel free to draw ideas from other layouts on Templates Community and transfer some of the photos or features that you think would go well with your LAN network design.
Step6 Finalizing the Plan
Once your LAN network diagram is ready, you can collaborate with your team to consider their opinion using the Cloud-base files. EdrawMax allows up to 100M free cloud storage. It supports files in several formats, including HTML, PDF, Graphics, Visio, Microsoft Office, etc. It is not a complicated process to create a LAN network diagram in EdrawMax. You can take a template and continue customizing it to suit whatever design you want. EdrawMax has several templates with fantastic designs for a LAN network diagram for your organization.
Basically, it is simple to create a LAN network diagram in EdrawMax, just grab a template and keep customizing, drag and drop professinal network diagram symbols to make your plan better. If you are still confusing about how to make a LAN network diagram in EdrawMax, you can find more tutorial videos from our Youtube
6. Local Area Network Examples
EdrawMax offers you Local Area Network examples and templates. Just click the image to download EdrawMax, and download the templates accordingly. Then double click to open the templates and customize as your prefer. Or open the templates from EdrawMax Templates Community, and duplicate the templates.
Example 1: Wireless Local Area Network
A Wireless Local Area Network is a network of two or more computers connected without Ethernet cables. Except for the main computer, each one of the devices within a wireless LAN exchanges information with the others via satellite or WiFi signals. In a wireless LAN, the main computer is wired to an access point or a router, which in turn, is linked to a modem. The access point then wirelessly transfers the internet connection to the rest of the devices within the system. You can add as many devices as you can to a WLAN as long as they are set within the distance the WiFi can cover.
Example 2: Token Ring Network
Token Ring technology is one of the earliest implementations of LANs. It was first used by the IBM staff in the late 90s. The Token Ring Network consists of linking multiple workstations to a token. This is a three-byte frame that acts as channel access. It travels around all these workstations in a logical and ring-like motion. Token Ring Networks are no longer being used currently, as they are replaced by Ethernet technology.
Example 3: Local Area Network Diagram
A local area network diagram is a map IT specialists rely on to organize a LAN before setting it up. These visual representations are very useful as they depict different components of a LAN, how a LAN's components are connected, and how they exchange information. While these may seem useless to an ordinary person, to an IT specialist, LAN diagrams are very important. They not only serve as a visual guide when setting up the network but also help with future problems a LAN might encounter. There are, of course, many other examples of LAN networks, but they are less used. A commonly used example of a LAN is the wireless LAN. It is implemented almost everywhere a LAN network is set up.
7. Free Network Diagram Tool
Drawing LAN diagrams is not easy, especially if you plan on doing it by hand. A diagram drawing tool is thus necessary if you often do network diagram drawing. There are a lot of freely available network diagram drawing tools in the market. However, most of them have a lot of shortcomings. For a freely-made, professionally-looking, and clear network diagram, we highly recommend using EdrawMax. Drawing LAN diagrams is not easy, especially if you plan on doing it by hand. The excellent network diagram software is thus necessary if you often do network diagram drawing. There are a lot of freely available network diagram drawing tools in the market. However, most of them have a lot of shortcomings. For a freely-made, professionally-looking, and clear network diagram, we highly recommend using EdrawMax.
Here is why you should use EdrawMax instead of other tools for your network diagram drawing projects:
- Easy to Use: To create a network diagram with less time, EdrawMax realizes it is important to simplify the process through pre-made shapes and automatic floating buttons. Therefore, you can save time to work efficiently and everything in EdrawMax network diagram maker is simple, smart and intuitive.
- Abundant Network Diagram Symbols & Templates: Using standard and polished network diagram symbols will help produce accurate and presentation-quality network diagrams. EdrawMax includes thousands of symbols for network diagram design which are divided into 30 separated libraries. You can load any library as you please and close those you don't need. EdrawMax also offers you tools to personalize the symbols or create custom symbols on your own.
- Editable Exported Files: EdrawMax network diagram software is easy and powerful. It is not only capable of exporting the created files to the most common formats. Moreover, those files are editable and sharable. Unlike other network diagram creators only exporting uneditable files, EdrawMax network diagram software makes itself stand out.
- Network Diagram Maker on All Platform: EdrawMax is a great Diagram Software. It's used as a powerful, fast and easy-to-use network diagram drawing program, which lets you layout your home network, cisco network, wan network, AWS network and other network graphic visualizations with premade high quality symbols. It's really cheap yet with premium quality. Many users have embraced it as the ultimate network diagram desktop program for Mac, Windows, Linux and Online.
8. Final Thoughts
To summarize, a LAN is a network where two or more computers and peripherals are interlinked wirelessly or by cables. LAN networks are widely used today, especially in medium-sized locations, such as houses, schools, and small offices. For a LAN network to work properly, each component should be accurately set up in its right place within the system. To make sure this is done in the most accurate way possible, network designers rely on what's known as LAN diagrams. A LAN network diagram is a visual map representing the different devices within a LAN.
EdrawMax is a free diagram drawing tool hundreds of thousands of network designers and IT specialists use to accurately and visually depict a LAN and its components and how they exchange information and files. It is a highly recommended tool for any network designer out there. It offers hundreds of templates, network-related graphic resources, and so many other features not found elsewhere.
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