The primary benefit of a LAN is its ability to share. The following table lists some of the benefits of sharing the most common resources on a LAN.
The sharing of data files that reside in a common location makes multiple-user access easier. Also, it's much easier to maintain data integrity when there is a single, central database. Large customer databases and accounting data are ideal for a LAN system.
Sharing printers, for example, allows more than one user to send jobs to a single printer. This is useful when there is only one high-quality printer in an office and the entire office needs to use it. It also allows one user to access multiple printers, providing cost savings in hardware and redundant resources in case one device fails. Other low usage peripherals, such as scanners and plotters, will be better utilized.
Sharing a single copy of an application can be cost-effective (many software manufacturers provide site licenses-licenses for multiple users on a server). It also allows easier maintenance and upgrading.
Larger, faster disk systems can be used cost-effectively for easy backups.
In addition to the ability to share resources, LANs offer many other benefits that include:
Resilience: Regular backups of the entire system greatly reduce the risk of data loss. Copying data to backup servers allows network operations to continue in the event of primary server failure.
Communication gateways: Low-cost access to fax and Internet connections.
Electronic mail: Cost-effective and convenient communication throughout the network.