Connecting Computers to a LAN

Connecting Computers to a LAN

Connecting to a Local Area Network (LAN)

  • A Local Area Network (LAN) connects computers and devices within a certain geographical area such as a home, school, or office. Devices within a LAN can share resources, exchange information, and communicate with one another.
  • Computers can be connected to a LAN via Ethernet cables or Wi-Fi. Ethernet cables offer a physically wired connection whereas Wi-Fi allows wireless connection.

Ethernet Connection

  • An Ethernet cable is a type of network cable used for wired LANs. They are used to transmit data at high speeds over relatively short distances.
  • A computer is connected to a LAN using an Ethernet cable by plugging one end of the cable into the computer’s Ethernet port and the other end into a network switch, router, or another computer.
  • The main advantage of a wired Ethernet connection is that it is typically faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi Connection

  • Wi-Fi allows for wireless connection to a LAN. Devices must have a built-in Wi-Fi adapter or a Wi-Fi dongle to connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  • To connect to a Wi-Fi network, the device must be within range of a wireless access point or router. The device will usually automatically detect available networks, and the user can then select the network they wish to join.
  • A password is typically required to join a secure Wi-Fi network.

Network Switches

  • A network switch is a device in a LAN that connects computers together.
  • Network switches use MAC addresses to direct network packets to the correct destination computer on the LAN.


  • A router is a device that connects multiple networks together. In a home or office environment, the router usually connects the LAN to the Internet.
  • The router is usually the device that a computer’s Ethernet cable is plugged into when setting up a wired LAN connection.

Network Interface Cards (NIC)

  • Each device within a LAN must have a Network Interface Card (NIC) installed.
  • The NIC provides the physical means to send and receive data on a LAN.
  • In modern devices, the NIC will often be built into the motherboard.