File Area Network

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What Does File Area Network Mean?

File area network (FAN) is a computer networking approach that includes multiple methods for file sharing and data management over a network. It enhances storage capability and infrastructure by providing a heterogeneous and centralized file sharing and control system. The decoupling layer included in FAN separates the physical file location from logical file access.


FAN is similar to storage area network (SAN). Both are a systematic way to store and manage bulk data in a computer networking environment.

Techopedia Explains File Area Network

The primary function of FAN is to improve and organize unstructured data. For this purpose, FAN uses different mechanisms, which are described in the list of features below. FAN is the solution for certain types of system issues such as binding or linking between applications and storage devices.

The main elements of FAN include:

  • File Virtualization: This method makes the end system fully independent by separating the physical location using namespaces. Virtualization ultimately provides a full logical access to the physical locations of the data. Data migration can be easily performed at any time without affecting the physical locations or end users.
  • WAN Optimization: This is the most effective method of FAN and is used to eliminate geographical dependency. It removes many undesired WAN elements such as low bandwidth and high latency.
  • Storage Devices: FAN was built for storage infrastructure. It does not matter whether the computer’s environment is SAN or network attached storage.
  • Namespaces: FAN allows the system to store, organize and present the file contents for end users. FAN indirectly links the end user with the stored data, providing dual services for the system itself and for the users. The system is secure and users get their objective data.
  • File Security: Data encryption and the related administration is centrally controlled in FAN. This element of FAN also enables centrally managing and controlling security policies. Sensitive information is always kept securely away from intruders and unauthorized users.
  • End Client: Clients working on FAN can use any platform. Namespaces are used to provide data access to authorized end clients only.
  • Connectivity: Network file system and common Internet file system are commonly used to connect namespaces and end clients. However, there are also other ways to provide such types of connectivity, such as wide area technologies.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.