Arrowhead Technologies

From the blog

SANs, LANs, & WANs Oh My!

types of networks sans lans wans

Computer networks are an integral part of our lives and while there are many different types of networks that exist, three of the most commonly used networks are SANs, LANs, and WANs. But how are they different?


According to the Storage Networking Industry Association dictionary, a storage area network (SAN) is any high-performance network whose primary purpose is to enable storage devices to communicate with computer systems and with each other. SAN storage devices can include tape libraries, disk arrays, and optical jukeboxes.

SANs can be useful when a company needs backup and disaster recovery settings. Within this network, data can be transferred from one storage device to another without interacting with a server.

Learn more about SANs here.


Local Area Networks cover a relatively small area like a home, office, or a small group of buildings, such as a school or airport. While connected to a LAN, users can share data or devices, such as laser printers.

LANs are great for sharing data quickly, but the distance and number of connected devices are limited.

Learn more about LANs here.


Typically consisting of two or more LANs, Wide Area Networks (WANs) cover a broad area, and they are capable of crossing metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries. WANs are normally connected together using devices such as bridges, routers, or gateways. The largest and most popular example of a WAN is the Internet.


The success of an organization will always depend on it’s ability to deliver the services that it’s customers need. Understanding the benefits and limitations of each type of network is the first step towards achieving that goal.