A Guide to Local Area Networks
Creating and supporting Local-Area Networks is something the team here at Adept Networks are passionate about. A comprehensive and professional set-up allows your business to grow by minimising downtime, improving the security of data transfer and allowing employees to do their allocated tasks. There are a number of different networks to choose from, including WAN and PAN, however LAN’s are some of the most popular. This guide will walk you through local-area networks and give you a clearer understanding as to whether this is the right choice for you.
What is a LAN?
LAN stands for Local Area Network. In short, it is a group of computers and other devices (printers etc) that are all connected together over a single network. What identifies it from other options is the proximity of these machines - LAN networks are normally confined to small areas. Think offices, warehouses or other small businesses. They feature a number of different networking technologies including:
- Ethernet - A technology that connects computers together. It is also known as a family of computer networking technologies.
- Wi-Fi - Sometimes referred to as Wireless Fidelity, Wifi is the use of radio waves to provide high-speed, wireless internet and network connections.
What are the benefits of LANs?
There are many reasons why someone may choose an LAN over others. The main benefits include:
- Speeds - Ethernet LAN’s can offer exceptionally fast speeds in contrast to those on Wi-Fi networks. This is due to the use of cables and the reduced risk of data transfer interruption.
- Linked Resources - If your business relies on high-quality printing, LAN’s allow you to share higher spec printers. This works with your company budget and eliminates the need for excessive equipment around the workplace. It also minimises costs for ink and ensures a consistent, high-quality result for every print.
- Back Up - Everyone’s work, within your business, can be backed up and stored together. This means that, if someone leaves or goes off sick mid-project, you’ll still be able to pull up everything they’ve been working on.
- Desk Hopping - LAN networks can be accessed on any computer that has been linked. Therefore, if you rely on desk hopping to make a smaller office work, employees will still be able to access their own work. Equally, those who work from home are still in a position to contribute successfully to their teams.
- Software Upgrades - It is a far easier process upgrading software when it is shared across LAN’s. (Please note, this isn’t necessarily any cheaper than purchasing individual software for every computer due to the need for licenses per user).
- Automatic Back-Up - As a regulator, you can set up regular central back-ups from all computers on the network. If a file is deleted by accident, it will be easier to retrieve it.
- Shared Data - Information can be easily and quickly shared across LAN’s. If several people are committed to a specific project, it is much easier for them to collaborate digitally.
- Passwords - LAN systems can be set-up with passwords that restrict access. This protects the safety and security of sensitive information.
- Multi-Use - Several people are able to access a central database at the same time. There are also restrictions you can apply that stop employees from editing files at the same time. This prevents miscommunication and error.
- Cheaper - Many LAN networks are set up as a local intranet. Seeing as this doesn’t require any phone cables, LAN networks can be run and managed without monthly fees.
What are the disadvantages of LAN’s?
With every option, there are certain disadvantages you need to be aware of too. LAN’s present the following issues:
- Isolating - Many businesses find that internal emails cause employees to avoid face-to-face contact. This can impact the company culture and increase the risk of miscommunication. When setting up a working team, real contact allows issues to be ironed out quicker and is vital to success. LAN networks make it all too easy to pop everything into an email without taking responsibility for the content.
- Queues - While connecting loads of computers to a single printer is great, it can also result in large print queues. This can put a hindrance on productivity and cause annoyance within your employees. Equally, forgotten or mislaid prints cause additional waste and can clog up the printer. A good way to avoid this is to implement a coded scheme whereby employees have to enter their individual pin in order to process a print.
- Viruses - As all of the computers on an LAN are connected, viruses can be spread very quickly. They tend to achieve this through the central backing store and can have significant implications to your business.
- Weak Passwords - Most LAN networks require a username and password for access. Unless set as a requirement, employees often create weak or easily guessed passwords. This increases the risk of unauthorised access which, in turn, puts your businesses safety at risk.
- Failures - If the central file server fails in a LAN, nobody will be able to access the hard drive. This could put a stop to all work for a set period of time, increasing downtime and significantly impacting your business.
- Expensive Repairs - Although the initial set-up of a LAN will be less than other options, the repairs can cause significant disruption. In high-traffic settings, cables are laid under the floorboard to minimise the risk of tripping. If one section goes down or breaks, the floors need to be lifted for repair. This also poses the risk of isolated sections, meaning specified areas of your business will be unable to work.
Is a LAN network right for me?
If you’re a business owner looking to improve communication between employees, the storage of information and productivity, an LAN is the ideal choice. Here at Adept Networks, we have an experienced and professional team who can find you the right networking equipment product. If you have any questions about your existing LAN or are considering implementing one in your office, get in contact today.