Types of Computer Network Explained in Easy Language

This tutorial explains the definition, types, and characteristics of computer networks. Learn what a computer network is and how many types of computer networks are there.

What is a computer network?

A computer network is a group of two or more computers connected to share resources and information. You can build a simple computer network using only two computers or you can connect thousands of computers into a complex network.

Types of computer network

A computer network can be classified on the basis of its geographical location and characteristics. On the basis of geographical location, a computer network can be categorized into the following types.

LAN (Local Area Network)

LAN computer networks span a small geographical area such as home, building, office, etc. In a LAN computer network, computers are placed relatively close. Since computers are located within a small distance, they do not need special devices and cables to connect.

The following image shows an example of a LAN network.

computer network type lan

MAN (Metropolitan area networks)

A MAN network can span a city. It connects two or more LAN networks. Due to distance, if it is not possible to connect two LAN networks, a MAN network is used in the middle to connect them. MAN is larger than LAN but smaller than WAN. It uses special devices and cables to connect the LANs.

The following image show an example of a MAN network.

computer network type man

WAN (Wide Area Network)

WAN computer networks span a large geographical area such as state, region, country, etc. WANs are typically used to connect two or more LANs or MANs which are located relatively very far from each other. To provide connectivity, a WAN network uses special devices, cables, and technologies.

The following image shows an example of a WAN network.

computer network type wan

The above categorization (LAN, MAN, and WAN) of computer networks is purely based on geographical location. It has nothing to do with the number of computers in each network.

For example, if one computer is located in Delhi and the other computer is located in Mumbai, then connecting these two computers is an example of WAN networking. Similarly, if a company starts a new branch office with 500 computers and all these computers are installed in the same building, then this network will be considered as LAN network.

There are three more types of computer networks based on geographic location but they are rarely used. If you are preparing for a job interview or any networking exam, you should learn them as well. They are the following.

PAN (Pearson Area Network)

PAN is similar to LAN, but is limited to a specific individual or location such as a home network. This network is usually set up within personal computers to share resources such as the Internet and printers.

computer network type pan

CAN (Campus Area Network)

CAN is similar to MAN, but it is limited to a university or an academy. This network is usually set up for educational activities such as classroom updates, practices labs, emails, exams, notifications, polls, etc.

computer network type

GAN (Global Area Networks)

GAN is similar to WAN, but it covers an unlimited geographical area. For example, a company has an office in Delhi and another in Washington DC. Connecting these two offices will be considered as GAN network. In other words, a GAN network is a computer network that connects two or more WANs. This network is rapidly gaining popularity as many companies are expanding their work area beyond their countries of origin.

computer network type gan

So far we have discussed the types of computers on the basis of geographical location. In the remaining of the section, we will understand the types of computer networks on the basis of characteristics.


This is the largest computer network ever created by mankind. It interconnects thousands of millions of computing devices including PCs, Laptops, Workstations, Servers, Smartphones, Tablets, TVs, Webcams, Environmental devices, Automobiles, Security cameras, and many more.

According to a report published in January 2021, there were 2470 million end systems connected with the Internet. To connect these devices, a lot of technologies and infrastructure are used. Internet is open for everyone. Anyone can connect with it. Since anyone can connect with it, it is also considered the most insecure network.

computer network type internet


The internet sounds similar to the Internet but it is different. The word Internet starts with the capital I, while the word internet begins with a small i. Any group of the networks that is connected with an external network through a gateway such as BGP is considered as the internet. Usually, this type of network is set up to provide connectivity between two companies.


An intranet is a computer network that is controlled and administered by a single entity such as a company or an organization. In Intranet, external users are not allowed to connect. Usually, in this network, proper authorization is required to access any resources. Further, each access is monitored and logged to ensure that only authorized users get access.


An Extranet is an extended Intranet where external users are allowed to access a small portion of the network. Normally, this access is filtered and secured by several security implementations on both hardware and software levels.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

VPN is the cost-effective solution to utilize the goodies of the Internet. Companies that can't afford their infrastructure for connectivity can use VPN. VPN provides a secure connection over the Internet. For example, a company has two offices; one in Delhi and another in Mumbai. Now suppose, the company can't afford a dedicated line to connect these two offices. In this case, the company can use VPN to connect both offices. VPN creates a secure line over the Internet and uses it for data transmission.

computer network type vpn

Client/Server Network

In this network, a dedicated computer known as a server offers shared resources to other computers know as clients. Clients are used to access the shared resources. This type of network is commonly used in the company environment. It provides great security features but requires special hardware and software to set up.

computer network type server client

Workgroup Network

In this network, all computers are equal. Any computer can provide and access shared resources. This type of network is usually used in a small office or home network. It is easy to set up and does not require any special hardware and software. The downside of this network is that it provides very little security.

computer network type workgroup

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