WAN Vs. LAN – Whats the difference?


If you've ever configured a home router, there is no doubt you have seen the connections on the back labelled LAN and WAN, but do you know what they are and what makes them different? In this article we're going to briefly explain the differences so that the next time you need to connect a home router, you will be more confident about knowing what these two different connections are.

There can be some confusion as to the difference between a LAN (or Local Area Network) and the WAN (or Wide area Network)

Really the difference is fairly simple and it really just depends on which side of your home wireless router your on.

WAN VS. LAN - Time to Duke it out!

The LAN side is typically your home network itself or inside the protection of the routers built-in firewall.  This is, from your home router's perspective, your wireless and wired networks in your home.  This is where you would plug in your laptops, desktops and gaming systems.  Most home routers will have a built-in 4 port switch that is part of the router.

Every one of the LAN ports on the back of the router can be treated the same and devices connected to each one can freely communicate with one another.  Things like files sharing or printer sharing are all done from devices connected to these ports.

lan versus wan connections on your home routerYou might also connect additional switches, power-line adapters or other home network devices that will all make up what is known as your LAN or local area network.

The WAN side of things, is where you connect your router to your Internet Provider's DSL or cable modem.

This is usually just a single connection that is considered "outside" of the home network.  It's considered "outside" because your home router acts like a firewall to block any unwanted attempts at connecting to your home computers.

The WAN interface is how you connect to the rest of the world.  As the name indicates the (WAN) WIDE AREA NETWORK is connected to the WORLD WIDE WEB.

You might also happen to see another acronym that is called WLAN.  A WLAN is known as a Wireless LAN. On most home routers you won't see a physical interface or a jack port for this.  Those rabbit ear antennas could be considered your WLAN.

So thats about it.  You now know the difference between LAN (inside interfaces) and WAN (outside interfaces) on your home router.  The next time you need to change out your router, or help your Mom or Grandpa Tom with their home network you can tell what the difference is between the WAN vs. LAN interfaces, and boy won't they think you're smart!

If you still happen to have questions about this or anything else on your home router, leave a comment below, we would love to help you out!

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