Internet, intranet, extranet — what’s the difference?

It's here: your no-nonsense guide to internet, intranet, extranet


Internet, intranet, extranet — potato, po-tah-to, right? 

Not really. 

Each describes a different type of network, and while they all sound similar, they have vastly different security implications and business uses. 

Before you go off and share essential company documents, make sure you know the difference. Understanding how to use each network will keep your resources secure and in the right place.

Internet vs. intranet vs. extranet

The internet is a global collection of computer networks known as the world wide web. On the other hand, an intranet is an online network only company employees can access. An extranet is an extension of an intranet. It lets approved third parties (such as vendors or customers) access restricted information.

The internet is the most expansive of the three networks. It creates connections between computers around the world. 

An intranet is a local network that only people within the organization can access. It’s the most restricted network of the three. 

Extranets fall in the middle since they allow for some connections outside of the company, but they’re not available to the public.

Why companies use intranet

For some of you, the term “intranet” might seem dated. It may bring up images of clunky file management structures created by an invisible IT department. 

However, modern intranet solutions help businesses stay secure, productive, and connected, especially as remote work becomes more common.

Here’s a look at some ways a modern employee intranet can benefit your company: 

  • Streamlined knowledge management. Companies can securely store and share important documents that help everyone get their work done, including frontline workers and remote teams.
  • Improved internal communications. With a secure intranet, you can make sure all workers receive company-wide updates and interact together.
  • Boosted productivity and collaboration. A modern intranet lets your teams use private messages and threads to communicate better and collaborate on projects over a secure network. 
Blink’s modern intranet app.

Modern intranet solutions like Blink offer activity feeds, private messaging, and mobile apps that keep employees connected. You can even track user activity and use workforce insights to measure employee engagement

Why companies use extranet

Companies use extranets to give customers or vendors access to secure information. It’s a way to share and collaborate with them. 

If you have a customer who places regular orders from your business, you can create a secure extranet that lets them update orders, process invoices, and message your team. 

Final thoughts: internet, intranet, extranet — what’s the difference?

Not all company information should live on the internet. So, businesses can use an intranet as a digital workspace where employees can access resources, follow company updates, and connect. When you create a network that third parties can access, that’s called an extranet. 

To learn more about how a modern intranet solution can support your digital workforce, explore Blink today.