LANs, MANs, and WANs: Understanding Your Network Systems

 In Blog, Managed IT Service Providers, Managed IT Services, Managed Network Services, Managed Service Provider, Managed Services

When it comes to understanding your network, you must start with a basic understanding of the different layers that can exist within one network. Doing so ensures that your data and information is protected at every juncture. At its most basic level, networks can be broken down into LANs, MANs, and WANs. These network types can (and often do) exist within one another.

The biggest difference between these types of networks is the geographical size that they cover. Let’s break down what each type is used for, from least- to most-inclusive:


LAN stands for “Local Area Network.” This network is privately owned and only includes a very small number of interconnected devices that can share files, apps, and programs without necessarily being connected to a larger network. You’ll often see these employed within schools or office buildings that use a “share drive.” This drive is only available to those that are given authorization to use the LAN. Someone else using the Wi-Fi in the building won’t necessarily have access to the shared drive if their device is not part of the LAN.

This type of network is able to deliver information at lightning fast speeds because the information is traveling such a short distance. Devices are typically physically connected to each other using ethernet cords, though LAN connections through a shared Wi-Fi (MAN or WAN) connection are increasingly common as the technology is easier to maintain.


MAN, or “Metropolitan Area Network,” covers a much larger geographical area such as a city or town. It connects devices to each other in much the same way that a Wi-Fi connected LAN does, but cannot be done with the use of ethernet wires. MANs are generally local internet service providers (ISPs) that connect to the larger WAN area to serve their customers.

MANs can also include large universities, which may have satellite campuses scattered throughout the area or cable TV providers. These also connect to the larger WAN, serving as a gate between your home cable setup and the larger cable network.


Wide Area Networks, abbreviated to WANs, are the largest network type. The internet that everyone uses is an example of a worldwide WAN that connects all LAN systems together. It’s what allows us to chat on Facebook, download music from external servers, or upload videos to YouTube.

WANs can also exist in relatively smaller areas. For example, large companies like Google or Microsoft use WANs to privately connect their LAN connections around the world into a larger network. Google also uses this technology to host their Google Suite of services, allowing you to save data in their cloud while still accessing it from any LAN in the world that is authorized for its use.

Verus provides a full range of local-area network (LAN) and wide-area network (WAN) services, including design, installation, support, monitoring with our unique VerusGuard service, and hosting in our data center. We know the technology from end to end—from the Cisco routers and HP and Dell servers that form the backbone of your network, to the network connections that deliver the quality of service you need, to working with a carrier you can trust.


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