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Our Local Area Network (LAN)

Copyright © 2017 by David E. Ross

I am rarely asked about LANs (local area networks). However, I sometimes see questions in various newsgroups about problems where the person asking apparently has a LAN but does not even know what a LAN is. Often, the question is about having a printer serving two or more computers. Rather than repeating a description of a LAN with a printer, I decided to create a Web page with a diagram to which I can then refer.

LANs can be simple — as is mine — or complex. The Wikipedia article on LANs emphasizes the latter, even describing some LANs that are almost WANs (wide area networks).

My LAN involves only two PCs, a printer, and a connection to the Internet. At the time this page was composed, my PC was running Windows 7; and my wife's PC was running Windows XP. Our PCs form a LAN by communicating through a router. The router is also connected to a modem to obtain access to the Internet. Both PCs can use the Internet at the same time.

diagram of my LAN

Our printer is not capable of being part of a network, so it is connected to my PC. For me to print, I merely turn on the printer. For my wife to print, her PC and mine must both be running along with the printer being turned on. Then, her print request goes through my PC and to the printer. For this to work, I had to configure my wife's PC to access my printer similar to the way I configured her PC to access some files on my PC. If our printer were network-capable, it would be connected to our router, not to my PC. In that case, my PC would not have to be running.

This is about as simple a LAN as possible.

9 July 2017

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