In general, there are two types of LANs: client/server LANs and peer-to-peer LANs.

A client/server LAN consists of several devices (the clients) connected to a central server. The server manages file storage, application access, device access, and network traffic. A client can be any connected device that runs or accesses applications or the Internet. The clients connect to the server either with cables or through wireless connections.

Typically, suites of applications can be kept on the LAN server. Users can access databases, email, document sharing, printing, and other services through applications running on the LAN server, with read and write access maintained by a network or IT administrator. Most midsize to large business, government, research, and education networks are client/server-based LANs.

A peer-to-peer LAN doesn’t have a central server and cannot handle heavy workloads like a client/server LAN can, and so they’re typically smaller. On a peer-to-peer LAN, each device shares equally in the functioning of the network. The devices share resources and data through wired or wireless connections to a switch or router. Most home networks are peer-to-peer.