LAN or Local Area Networks has been in use for many years. However, due to the expansion of other technologies such as WAN (Wide Area Network), they are not as popular as before. Luckily, LAN still offers a lot of advantages that usually overshadow its disadvantages. This technology came into existence in the 1960s and entered commercial use in 1983. Although many companies shifted to wireless networks, LAN is still one of the most reliable network types due to its benefits.
Advantages of LAN (Local Area Network)
LAN network technology is among the oldest and is highly effective for both small and large-scale setups. Companies can ensure uninterrupted data transmission and better security with LAN. That’s because an unknown user cannot connect wirelessly unless authenticated. Let’s dive into several other benefits of this network type that users must consider.
1. LAN is affordable
LANs are usually more affordable to set up and maintain than other networks because they require less equipment for smaller areas. Additionally, since the technology is much older, there is a wider variety of hardware available for compatible devices. For example, you can use your old computers from the 1990s when setting up a LAN today, and would likely encounter very few issues. However, if you have been using cloud-based services to manage your network, this may not be possible anymore. Some companies even have their private cloud networks to save on costs.
How much does it cost to set up a LAN network?
For a new LAN installation of 1,000 feet CAT-6 cable with up to 8 connections, it can cost anywhere from $1200 – $4000. For an average home with a couple of devices to connect, the prices will be even lower. The prices will depend on the type of peripherals you need, the quality of materials used, the complexity of the installation, etc.
LAN systems are very secure because they don’t rely on an external connection for access. Hackers cannot get into your system easily or at all, depending on how you set up your network. This might seem like a disadvantage if you’re looking for easier ways to interact with customers online. However, there is no denying that it can be convenient from a security standpoint. This is especially true if your business deals with confidential information such as financial records and client identities. If someone somehow managed to break through these firewalls, they would only have limited access to the LAN system.
One of the main pros of LAN is its flexibility. In fact, in general, it is the advantage of a computer network. Since everything in a local area network originates from one central location, changes will automatically affect the whole system and be accessible to everyone. One computer can host all relevant information instead of updating multiple devices, for instance. This saves time and money when sharing important updates with employees or clients. It also makes it easier if someone needs remote access.
Files are readily available without requiring an external device such as a thumb drive or hard drive for file transfers. This ensures that your data is always secure, no matter where people access it from.
Most people still consider the local area network system a reliable and secure option because it has been around for decades. It’s easier to find compatible devices, which is always an advantage when purchasing new hardware or software. This also means that you won’t be limited in terms of functionality, since older systems were usually much more complex than current ones.
This means there will likely be lots of room for expansion as time goes on. While this may not seem like an important factor now, if your business starts growing rapidly, you don’t want something holding it back by being too old or obsolete. Adopting technology early can help ensure future success instead of hindering progress due to outdated equipment.
5. Ease of Use
Finally, LANs are generally easier and quicker to set up than other networks, especially on a smaller scale such as home or office. Once the infrastructure is in place, connecting new computers requires little to no knowledge or training. Thus, you can start using them as soon as you buy or rent the necessary network equipment and cables. Admittedly, this may not be an important factor for smaller businesses that only have a few computers.
In contrast, larger companies often find it incredibly useful. This is especially true if their employees benefit from having quick, direct access to the network without extensive setup. If your business uses computers, using a local area network instead of cloud-based services may save everyone time in the long run. Besides increasing productivity and having access to information locally, users will benefit from LAN’s security measures.
6. Resource Sharing
LAN has rendered CDs and DVDs useless, as it is far more efficient at resource sharing than other technological devices. Also, hosts and clients connected to a LAN can not only share data but also hardware, such as printers and other output devices. Also, resource sharing is not one-way. Every participant on the network can send data and share connected devices without special permission.
Disadvantages of LAN (Local Area Network)
As technology advanced to WAN and WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), this system became even more frequently used by small companies or enterprises. Some other downsides of LAN include increased costs of implementation and maintenance.
If the LAN system gets interrupted, this will affect every connected device. This is a huge issue for businesses with lots of employees or clients. Service disruptions are more common than you might think and could lead to costly losses, particularly when dealing with sensitive data. If your business depends on accessing information remotely, LAN isn’t ideal. Downtime may not always be preventable, even when working hard behind the scenes. A backup plan in place, such as an additional network set up specifically for emergencies, would help ensure minimal disruption. This will still provide an alternative option in case something happened unexpectedly.
2. Expansion is Costly
If you plan to purchase or extend new hardware for your LAN system, it can be much more expensive than other options. For example, cloud-based services often require no additional equipment. The businesses that choose wireless systems will typically save money in the long run, even when factoring in initial setup costs. The need to upgrade or replace anything once everything is running smoothly will also decrease.
On the other hand, LANs require specific devices such as routers, cables, and switches. These aren’t usually included with the installation, so companies must make existing ones available. Alternatively, they likely must purchase and use different products instead of a cloud service account. Therefore, setting up remote access may require special software. This implies that companies may incur extra costs compared to other options — a waste of money in the long run.
3. Compatibility Issues with Wireless Network
Depending on the type of LAN system you choose, it may not be compatible with wireless devices, making some employees or clients more difficult to service. Many people prefer using wired connections for various reasons, but others, including gamers, typically use both depending on convenience. This would emanate compatibility issues, which can turn into a big problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
Disconnecting wires every time something like this happens can become incredibly frustrating. It gets even worse if it’s constantly happening while people are trying to get work done. The worst-case scenario is when a business depends on constant connectivity, regardless of the physical location. Thus, working around this would require lots of planning, which isn’t practical in most cases.
4. Centralization Issues
While local area networks are great for improving data security, they do have some downsides. All information is stored in one place. Thus, if your business LAN ever gets hacked or damaged, it could result in a catastrophe since every detail would get leaked. To prevent this from happening, you should always aim to use a system with multiple backups. Doing so will provide extra protection against potential breaches, just in case something goes wrong unexpectedly. Of course, these backup systems need their own separate equipment, which may cost considerably more than expected.
5. Disconnection Problems
Although there are some clear advantages to using LAN, it’s important not to underestimate the potential disadvantages. These include expensive equipment, which could lead to wasted money. As technology is advancing, computer manufacturers are making laptops and desktops focusing on wireless networks. Let’s also not forget that many companies shifted to work from home culture during the pandemic, and the only way to connect to the workplace was via wireless network.
6. Privacy Concerns
Since LAN is a local network with willing hosts and clients, it can cause security and privacy concerns. Anyone connected to a LAN can share data and ply the connected devices. Hence, it is not farfetched to say this sharing can be misused. The absence of security protocols can prompt data theft. Also, any connected party can take control of a shared device. Thus, LAN, although a secure method of data sharing, can by itself raise various security concerns.