Stands for "Storage Area Network." A SAN is a network of storage devices that can be accessed by multiple computers. Each computer on the network can access hard drives in the SAN as if they were local disks connected directly to the computer. This allows individual hard drives to be used by multiple computers, making it easy to share information between different machines.
While a single server can provide a shared hard drive to multiple machines, large networks may require more storage than a single server can offer. For example, a large business may have several terabytes of data that needs to be accessible by multiple machines on a local area network (LAN). In this situation, a SAN could be setup instead of adding additional servers. Since only hard drives need to be added instead of complete computer systems, SANs are an efficient way to increase network storage.
Updated: July 2, 2008