Deciding How to Set Up Your Home Network

The items you need to set up a home network vary, depending on your goals. Assuming that you want your home network to be able to access the Internet, the first thing you need is an Internet connection to a local provider. The range of Internet connectivity is wide. Some of the most popular (high-speed) choices are digital subscriber line (DSL), cable broadband (typically from your cable provider), and satellite connections. In just about all cases, you need a modem. The modem connects your Ethernet port to your Internet service provider (ISP). In a single computer installation, you connect an Ethernet wire directly from your computer to this port.


Security is a huge issue any time you connect a computer to a network. There is an old saying that says the only way to completely secure a computer is to lock it away in a closet and not turn it on. Security requires a mindset in terms of computing. You need to weigh the pros and cons of security measures rather than blindly implementing solutions just because you may have heard that it is the ultimate security solution. There is no such thing as a panacea when it comes to computers, much as in life itself. The questions you should be asking yourself when you think about computer security should be much the same as those you consider when it comes to your home's security. For example, what am I trying to protect and from whom or what am I trying to protect it? Once you answer those questions, you are equipped to determine the tools available to address your concerns. There are some basic staple items when it comes to computer security, viruses and firewalls. Virus scanners are an essential tool as the prevalence of new malicious software is a continuing threat. Many vendors offer virus scanners, Norton and Computer Associates to name just a couple. Also keep in mind that security solutions such as virus scanners are a fluid process and must continually be updated. Be sure that you understand how to update your virus software. Also be sure that you understand how to update your Operating System. Microsoft's Windows Update website is a site you should be visiting regularly to ensure that you have the latest security updates for your computer. A firewall is another vital tool in your security arsenal. The basic approach of a firewall is to prevent any communication either to or from your computer unless explicitly allowed. With that knowledge in mind, once you do allow for some form of communication, either outbound or inbound, you are opening your computer to potential attacks. Keeping yourself informed is key to being able to keep your computer secure. Check a search engine such as Google for security, viruses, attacks, etc.

What You Need for a Wired Network

If wired networking is your solution of choice, you need a few basic pieces of equipment. Many computers these days come equipped with Ethernet NICs preinstalled, so you may not need to purchase any when you decide to network your computers. Ethernet NICs need to be connected together using Ethernet cables, so you need the cables and a means of connecting your computers to each other. Therefore, you need to either locate all your computers in the same room or run wire behind walls so that all your computers can be connected to the network. The simplest method of connecting your computers over Ethernet is by using an Ethernet crossover cable to connect two computers. If you have more than two computers, you may need to purchase an Ethernet hub or switch. In this case, the computers in your home network would use an Ethernet cable to plug in to one of the open ports on the hub or switch.

Again, you need the following elements for a wired solution:

  • A NIC for each computer

  • Category 5 Ethernet wires

  • An Ethernet hub or switch

  • A router (whose function could be provided by your DSL or cable modem)

What You Need for a Wireless Network

If wireless networking is in your plans, you need a wireless NIC for each computer. These vary from a PC card for your laptop computers to PCI or USB wireless NICs for your desktop computers. In any case, you need a WAP, which is the wireless equivalent of an Ethernet hub or switch in that it connects computers that have wireless NICs. WAPs vary in their functionality, and you need to refer to the manufacturer's instructions for your specific device. In general, a WAP will be plugged in to the Ethernet port of the modem your ISP provides. (Chapter 2, "Project 1: Making Your Computers Talk to Each Other," covers more details about the various wireless solutions available.) The great advantage of wireless networking is that it enables you to put computers anywhere within range of your network. Figure 1.3 shows a typical layout of a home network. This network uses a wireless router as the means for the computers to access the Internet.

Figure 1.3. A typical home network.

It would be possible to substitute a computer for the wireless router shown in Figure 1.3. If you chose this option, your computer would become the router shown in this figure and would need two network cards installed. One NIC would connect to your modem and the other to your hub, switch, or WAP.

This book assumes that you'll create a network by using a wireless router that is directly connected to the ISP connection (as represented in Figure 1.3 by the broadband modem). The reason for choosing such an approach is the sheer simplicity with which connections can be made. With a wireless network, you do not need to be concerned with running any cables from your computers to a central switch or hub. And adding new computers to your network is as simple as adding a wireless network card to each new computer and turning it on.

Create Your Own Home Networks
Create Your Own Home Networks
ISBN: 0672328321
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 82
Authors: Eli Lazich © 2008-2017.
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