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2. Virtual network

Virtual networks make use of software to divide devices on a LAN into smaller groups.

The whole LAN is still physically connected by cables, but the 'virtual network' of devices created through software are restricted from accessing any of the other computers on the LAN. So they appear to be a completely separate network within the larger one.

The diagram below shows a LAN which has been subdivided into three virtual networks (VLAN).

virtual network

The devices coloured red are one virtual network, perhaps the finance and office staff network in a school. The yellow devices might be the students' virtual network and the blue ones the teaching staffs' virtual network.

Devices on the finance office virtual network can see all of the files and folders they need and can easily share data with anyone else on their network. However, they cannot see teacher or student files stored in the blue and yellow virtual networks. Likewise, students on the yellow virtual network cannot see resources stored on the blue or red networks.

NOTE: in your exam, do not talk about coloured networks. We have used them here just to help you understand the concept.

REMEMBER: Local Area Networks are created using hardware (cables). Virtual networks are created using software.