WAN Vs LAN Port (Differences & When To Use Each One)

Read to know in depth about WAN, LAN, and other networks

by Sagar Naresh
Sagar Naresh
Sagar Naresh
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Sagar is a web developer and technology journalist. Currently associated with WindowsReport and SamMobile. When not writing, he is either at the gym sweating it out or playing... read more
Reviewed by Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Windows Server & Networking Expert
After moving away from the corporate work-style, Alex has found rewards in a lifestyle of constant analysis, team coordination and pestering his colleagues. Holding an MCSA Windows Server... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Selecting the optimal network for your needs is very important as it most of the important tasks depend on it.
  • Whether choose WAN or LAN is the most common doubt that users have in their minds.
  • This guide explains everything that you need to know to better understand and use various networks to your benefit.

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You have a wireless router and a curious mind as you want to know the differences between the LAN and WAN ports that your router has.

If you are thinking about it and have landed here, then you will get all of your answers and more importantly, what are the differences between WAN and LAN and when to use each one. Let us get right into this comprehensive guide.

WAN Port vs LAN Port

So, without wasting much time, we are jumping straight into the comparison. This table will help you understand what basically is a WAN and a LAN and what differentiates them from one another:

LAN Port WAN Port
LAN stands for Local Area Network. WAN stands for Wide Area Network.
You can use a LAN port to connect the PC and other client machines. You can make use of a WAN port to establish a connection with the internet.
The number of LAN ports depends upon the type and brand of the router.  You will find most routers with one WAN port. 
It is often labeled as Ethernet as well. It is labeled as the Internet or simply WAN.
LAN refers to a network that is meant for a small geographical area such as a home or an office. WAN spans a large geographical area. For example, a city, a state, or a country.
With LAN you can control all the connected devices. LANs can be interconnected through a single WAN.
LAN connects PCs using an ethernet cable. WAN connects to a cable or a modem which then connects to the internet.
Someone having access to your LAN also gains access to all the computers on LAN. In the case of a WAN, a hacker will gain access to only the connected PC.

WAN vs LAN on a router

As we have already mentioned in the comparison table above, a modem will have typically one WAN port and multiple LAN ports.

The WAN port on a router can be used to connect to a high-speed modem, which then connects the router to the internet. You will find the WAN port on your router labeled WAN or Internet.

On the other hand, the LAN port is used to connect computers that don’t have Wi-Fi access. It can connect to the LAN port via an ethernet cable and then establish a connection with the internet.

The moment the cable is plugged into the router, you have established a wired connection.

LAN vs MAN vs WAN

Apart from LAN and WAN, there is MAN as well. In such a case, it becomes important to know the difference between them as it will help you make a decision on when to use one.

LAN MAN WAN
LAN stands for Local Area Network. MAN stands for Metropolitan Area Network. WAN stands
Can be used for small areas such as home or office. Can be operated in large areas such as a city. Can be used for larger areas such as a country or a continent.
The ownership is private. The ownership can be private or public. WAN might not be owned by one company.
Speed is high. Speed is moderate. Speed is low.
Less congestion. Medium congestion. Heavy congestion.
Short delay. Moderate delay. High delay.
LAN maintenance is easy. Maintenance is more difficult than LAN. Maintenance is more difficult than LAN and MAN.

Should I use a WAN or LAN port?

For those who wish to connect to the internet, then you should use the WAN port and connect your router to it. Because LAN will let you connect two or more computers together and transfer data.

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The WAN port on your ISP router is the one that brings the internet into the network. Using the WAN port to connect to the second router won’t give you internet access.

In this case, you can make use of the LAN port and connect the second router via the LAN port and then enjoy internet access with the second router.

Also, you should not confuse WAN with a Wireless Area Network. WAN stands for Wide Area Network, whereas, WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network. WLAN is a LAN with wireless functions instead of an ethernet cable. So, when you connect your device to a router using Wi-Fi, you are using WLAN.

When is it best to use LAN, WAN, MAN, and CAN?

Here are some of the best use-case scenarios for LAN, WAN, MAN, and CAN.

  • LAN: You can use LAN when your purpose is to transfer files between computers, print with shared printers, and primarily connect one computer with another. You can even share applications, software, hardware, and the internet with connected computers. This could be beneficial for colleges, schools, offices, hospitals, etc.
  • WAN: You use a WAN to connect to the internet. Corporations with offices spread across the county or different continents use WAN to connect offices together. It can be used to run and host internal apps, communicate using voice or video, access data, remotely backup data, etc.
  • MAN: MAN is made up of interconnected LANs. It combines the networks of multiple organizations and makes use of fiber optics. It can be used to connect offices in a single city, factory, and HQs as it can be used to transmit data using modems and wires.
  • CAN: Controller Area Network is designed to allow communication between microcontrollers. This can be used to trigger airbags in cars, anti-braking systems, power steering, and other scenarios. It is also used in sports cameras, automatic doors, coffee machines, etc.

When should I use the WAN port on the router?

If you have a modem and router as separate devices then you need to connect them in order to access the internet. The connection is done via an ethernet cable. Through this connection, your modem passes an internet signal to your router, ultimately which allows you to access the internet.

So, if your router isn’t connected to the modem via the WAN port, you won’t be able to access the internet.

Is LAN or WAN better for Ethernet?

LANs have better speed and reliability as compared to WANs. Typically, LAN speeds range between 1,000 Mb/s to 40,000 Mb/s as compared to 150 Mb/s WAN speed. LANs are also easily manageable and less costly to set up.

That is it from us in this guide. If you are getting lower ethernet speeds, then you can refer to our guide and apply the 10 expert tips to enhance the internet speed.

We also have a guide that mentions some effective solutions to resolve the ethernet not working problem. You can check out our guide that helps you with combining two internet connections on a Windows 10 PC.

For users facing Wake on LAN not working problem, fortunately, we have a guide that mentions some solutions that have helped users fix the problem.

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