Difference between LAN Switch and SAN Switch

The LAN switches and SAN switches are two different types of switches that are used for different requirements. LAN switches are mostly used in Local Area Networks to establish connections between computers, printers, etc. in one particular single location. They establish communication and manage network traffic within a network.

SAN switches are used in Storage Area Networks. They are used to establish the connection between storage devices like tape libraries and disk arrays. The function of SAN switches is to provide storage and retrieval of information efficiently and to make sure that the data is available to the servers when needed.

In this article, let’s learn and understand the key difference between LAN switches and SAN switches, including their purpose, addressing scheme, and scalability.

LAN Switches

LAN switch is defined as a packet switching technique where the data packets flow from one computer to another in a Local Area Network. It is mainly designed to manage network traffic by routing the data packets sent from one device to another. Each device in a network has a MAC address that is used by the LAN switch to send the packet to the destination port. Thus, avoiding broadcast transmission and reducing network traffic and congestion.

LAN switches are used in the data link layer of the OSI model. It transfers data between adjacent nodes in a network. One good advantage of LAN Switches is that they segment the network traffic. It reduces traffic and congestion by dividing the network into small segments or VLANs (Virtual LANs). It also provides advanced features like QoS (Quality of Service) by prioritizing the network traffic based on the user’s requirement.

LAN switch is also known as an advanced/enterprise switch as it provides faster communication, a higher level of security, and can be used in troubleshooting tools. Overall, LAN switches are widely used components in today’s computer networks as they are fast and reliable means of connecting nodes in a network.

SAN Switches

SAN switches are defined as a high-speed technique in a network of storage appliances and switches connected to another system. It connects storage devices like disk arrays and backup devices to servers. It is mainly designed to provide efficient storage and retrieval of information. Thus, making the data available to the servers whenever needed.

SAN switches work at the fiber channel layer of the OSI model. It provides a reliable and high-speed data transfer between the devices and servers. SAN switches use zoning techniques to control access to a particular storage device. This technique allows the administrators to stop access to any storage devices. Thus, protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access. Moreover, SAN switches also provide features like replication, virtualization, and mirroring. These features help to utilize the storage space more efficiently and improve data availability.

One good advantage of SAN switches is scalability. As there is a need for more storage, one can simply add more switches to the SAN. It also gives a good performance rate by providing high data transfer of up to several gigabytes per second.

Difference between LAN switches and SAN switches

LAN Switches

SAN switches


The LAN switches are used to connect the systems within a LAN.

The SAN switches are used to connect the storage devices with the servers in a SAN.

Network topology

LAN switches are connected in a bus or star topology.

SAN witches use fabric topology.

Addressing scheme

It uses a MAC address for routing packets.

It uses WWN (World Wide Name) addressing scheme.

Transmission medium

It uses copper or fiber optic cables to transmit data.

It uses only fiber optic cables to transmit data.

Security methods

ACL (Access control lists), port security.

Zoning, LUN masking.

Traffic control

The traffic is controlled by dividing the network into VLANs and QoS (Quality of Service).

The traffic is controlled by zoning and QoS.


This is limited to 100 devices only.

It has high scalability of supporting thousands of devices.


This is an Ethernet-based storage network.

This is a fiber-based storage network.


In conclusion, LAN and SAN switches are two different types of networking switches that serve their purposes in a network. LAN switches are used in local area networks with limited devices and establish communication between devices in the same network. Whereas SAN switches are widely used to connect storage devices to the servers and thus provide efficient storage and data retrieval.

Both switches differ from each other in terms of cost, scalability, topology, security, and storage. It is important to choose the right one depending on the usage. The LAN switches are less expensive and easy to configure. SAN switches are more expensive and complex to configure.

By understanding the differences between both, a network administrator can choose the right switch to get the desired results.

Updated on: 17-May-2023


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