Computer networks can be classified in different measures. When categorizing networks, attributes such as size or the number of nodes in the network, the geographical spreading of the network and the technology used by the network are taken into account.
The most popular way of sorting network types depends on the geographical extend of the network. By organizing networks in this manner, we can identify three types of networks.
Local area network (LAN)
A Local Area Network is a small computer network usually set up within a single building. As a rule, the communication links are high-speed connections. (E.g. Network within your office)
Metropolitan area network (MAN)
This type of a network covers a metropolitan or a municipality area. Communication links may include low to high-speed connections.
Wide area network (WAN)
This is a network that covers a large geographical area - may be a country or a continent. This type of networks typically use low-speed links for data transfer. (E.g. the Internet)
There are two more types of networks defined, based on the span of the network services. Personal Area Network (PAN) is a later added category, which resembles a network used around a single person. The model is centered on Bluetooth technology. The next type is Global Area Network (GAN), representing a very large network that has a global coverage, by using a combination of different technologies such as satellite communication.
Computer network classification can also use the technology aspects. In essence, a network falls under one of two categories in view of the architecture being used.
A workgroup includes a set of PCs that can interconnect with each other without a specific weight on a particular computer.
A special computer known as the server keeps exclusive authority on some of the network features. The server will offer services to client computers upon their request. These may include storage services, internet services, printing services and so on.
Internetworking type is another quality that can be measured to tag computer networks. Internetworking is a way of linking computer nodes in the interest of a single business establishment. Usually business organizations own their private internetworks used for internal purposes. There are two types of internetworks.
An intranet is a network open only for internal employees of a company. The employees should use the network for inter-organization procedures - may be to communicate with a remote branch.
Extranet is another type of internetwork owned by a single enterprise. Instead of inside-usage, an extranet will offer services to the outside world - mainly to the customers and suppliers of the venture. (E.g. ATM network)
Computer networks can be categorized by considering various aspects. The points to judge incorporate technology, architecture, standards and other attributes of a network. Sometimes the same network may fall into different classes depending on different evaluation techniques.