local area network
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local area network (LAN) a network of PERSONAL COMPUTERS used to undertake routine data processing functions in a business. Over the years these networks have become more complex and to this extent a ‘system crash’ or failure can be highly disruptive and expensive. Old-style PC networks were device-sharing facilities giving people access to a departmental printer or fax. If they went down, people could still carry on working. In modern networks, however, people use PCs to log on to the network for all their software, including word processing and databases, and to access information held on software in other departments. See INFORMATION MANAGEMENT.
local area network (LAN) a network of computers within an organization, connected by cable or radio signals, to facilitate internal communications. Local area networks can, in turn, be interconnected through the INTERNET.