The difference between the internet and an intranet

At first, when asked the question “What is the difference between an intranet and the Internet?” most people might answer, “That’s easy, an intranet is for a few people to use, while the Internet can be used by anyone”.

However, the actual answer is a bit more complex than that. For example, some areas of the Internet are only accessible to users with the appropriate permissions, while there are some intranets, such as those used by the US Army or the UK’s NHS, that have 100,000s of users.

To compare the two, one needs to look at what the Internet and an intranet actually are. 

Learn more about intranet software.

What is the Internet?

The Internet as we know it today is the term used for the global network that any computer using a TCP/IP protocol can link to. By connecting to the Internet users can access a variety of information and communication facilities, such as the World Wide Web and email.

What is an Intranet?

An intranet is a private network that only those with permission can access. Originally, intranets were confined to wired Local Area Networks (LANs) hosted on the client-server, making them almost discrete from the Internet. But the advent of web-based intranets that users could access via the Internet (with a user-name and password) has now blurred this line somewhat. 


The Internet and intranets do have some similarities. They are both, at a basic level, computer networks that enable users to communicate and access information. Indeed, the Internet started off in the 1960s as just a few US defense computers connected to each other.

They also both enable a user to access similar communication and collaboration tools. But that is where the similarities end.

What is the difference between internet and intranet?

The Internet is open to anyone, and anyone can be anonymous if they wish.

On the other hand intranets are private networks where all the users are known. This is incredibly empowering for everyone on an intranet network. They can trust in the information that they are receiving, while also knowing that whoever views the information they share is controlled. In this way, users can effectively communicate and collaborate in confidence on an intranet.

As can be seen, an intranet offers great advantages over the Internet for internal communication and collaboration. Yet to be truly effective, businesses must turn to quality intranet platforms such as Unily, otherwise users are likely to abandon the intranet and head out onto the unregulated Internet.

Best intranet software guide pages

How to decide what intranet software is best for you

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