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Intranet vs. Extranet: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 26, 2023
An intranet is a private network restricted to an organization's members, while an extranet extends limited network access to external partners.

Key Differences

An intranet is a private network specifically designed for internal use by the members of an organization. This network allows employees to share information, collaborate on projects, and access shared resources within a secure environment. On the other hand, an extranet is a controlled private network that provides access not only to the internal members but also to selected external users such as suppliers, partners, or customers.
The main purpose of an intranet is to improve communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among employees. It often includes tools like internal email, forums, and document sharing. Extranet, by contrast, aims to enhance business-to-business communication and can help in areas like supply chain management, customer relationship management, and external collaborations.
In terms of accessibility, an intranet is generally only accessible from within the organization's premises or through a VPN when employees are working remotely. An extranet, however, offers wider accessibility. While it is still protected and requires authentication, selected external entities can gain access from outside the organization's physical or virtual boundaries.
When considering security, the intranet focuses on safeguarding internal data and is shielded from external threats. Extranet, due to its nature of allowing external access, needs extra layers of security measures such as stringent authentication procedures and robust firewalls to ensure data protection from external threats.
The development and maintenance costs of an intranet are often lower as it's meant for a specific audience and doesn't require complex security protocols. Conversely, an extranet might incur higher costs due to its extended functionalities and the need for more advanced security measures.

Comparison Chart


For internal communication and collaboration.
For external partnerships and collaborations.


Usually within organization or via VPN.
Accessible by selected external entities.

Security Focus

Safeguarding internal data.
Protecting data from external threats.

Typical Users

Employees of the organization.
Partners, suppliers, selected customers.

Development Cost

Generally lower.
May be higher due to added functionalities.

Intranet and Extranet Definitions


The digital hub of an organization, exclusive to its members.
New training modules are now available on the intranet.


A controlled private network for external collaboration.
Suppliers can check order statuses via our extranet portal.


A private network within an organization for its members.
The company's intranet is home to various employee resources.


A secure platform allowing select external users access to specific data.
The client accessed the project timeline through the extranet.


A digital workspace where organizations store internal documents and tools.
The HR policies can be found on the intranet.


An extension of an intranet for partners, suppliers, or customers.
Partners can download marketing materials from our extranet.


A secure platform to streamline organizational operations and processes.
Employees submit their leave requests through the intranet.


A restricted-access network for external organizational engagements.
Customers can submit service requests via the extranet.


An internal portal for employee collaboration and communication.
Our team uses the intranet for project updates and discussions.


A digital tool to strengthen business-to-business communications.
The extranet has streamlined our communication with distributors.


A privately maintained computer network that can be accessed only by authorized persons, especially members or employees of the organization that owns it.


An extension of an institution's intranet, especially over the World Wide Web, enabling communication between the institution and people it deals with, often by providing limited access to its intranet.


(computing) A private computer network, typically one that uses the protocols of the Internet.


(computing) A private computer network that uses Internet protocols and can be accessed by authorized individuals via the Internet.


A restricted computer network; a private network created using World Wide Web software


Is intranet only about websites?

No. Intranets can host websites, but they also support tools, applications, and databases for organizational use.

How is an intranet different from the internet?

While the internet is a global public network, an intranet is a private network restricted to a specific organization.

What is an intranet?

An intranet is a private network within an organization, accessible only to authorized users.

Is an extranet secure?

Yes, extranets are typically protected with strong security measures, but the level of security depends on the organization's protocols.

Is a customer portal an example of an extranet?

Yes, customer portals that provide specific resources and tools are a type of extranet.

Can intranets be accessed remotely?

Yes, but remote access usually requires secure VPN connections.

Is an intranet a type of VPN?

No. A VPN provides a secure connection to a network, while an intranet is the actual network.

Do all large organizations have intranets?

Most large organizations have intranets, but the scale and features vary based on their needs.

Who typically accesses an extranet?

External partners, vendors, suppliers, or customers with given permissions.

Can an extranet be accessed via the internet?

Yes, but only through secure login processes.

What's a common use case for an extranet?

Supply chain management, where suppliers can view inventory levels and receive orders, is a typical use case.

What is an extranet?

An extranet is a private network that allows controlled access to external partners, vendors, or stakeholders outside the organization.

Can the public access an extranet?

No, extranets are private and require authentication for access.

Why do organizations use intranets?

They use intranets to facilitate internal communication, collaboration, and sharing of resources among employees.

Who can access an intranet?

Typically, only members of the organization with the right credentials.

How secure is an intranet?

If properly set up and maintained, intranets can be very secure, often protected by firewalls, encryption, and authentication measures.

Why do businesses use extranets?

Businesses use extranets to collaborate with external partners, share information, and streamline operations with third parties.

Do extranets require special software?

Not necessarily. They often use similar technologies as intranets, but access controls and security measures are paramount.

What technologies power intranets?

Common intranet technologies include TCP/IP, HTTP, and often content management systems like SharePoint or Confluence.

How does an extranet differ from an intranet?

While an intranet is for internal use, an extranet extends certain parts of the intranet to external users.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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