What are the Best Tips for Setting up a Home Network?

A. Hunter

Many families are interested in setting up a home network for their children or themselves. A home network is set up in which two or more devices, such as a computer, printer, router, and modem, are connected together so that they may interact with each other. Someone may want a home network to connect a computer and router together to gain access to the Internet, or to connect two computers together to share information. Setting up a home network involves deciding what devices should be connected and how those devices will talk to each other.

Cat5 cable for use with a network.
Cat5 cable for use with a network.

How devices can talk to each other often goes hand-in-hand with what those devices are, so it's a good idea for the person setting up the network to know what will connect to the network before he or she begins to set it up. If the user wishes to connect a router, for Internet access, to one or more computers, for example, this can be accomplished either via a network cable or wireless link. The user will likely find that most modern routers will help to establish the network and the protocols that the computers will use to communicate.

A wireless router can be used to set up a home network.
A wireless router can be used to set up a home network.

The simplest way to connect devices is by cable, as there is a physical connection and security is less of a concern. In this example, the computer would be connected to the router simply by plugging one end of a network cable into the computer and the other end into the router. Once that physical connection is established, a light on the router should indicate that the port where the cable is attached is active.

Once the link is active, the router should talk to the computer and give it an address on the network. This step is repeated for every computer to be put on the network. Once each computer has a network address, it will be able to communicate with the router and the other computers. Setting up a home network of this type is now complete.

If a person wants to connect two or more computers together but doesn't have a router, the computers can often be connected directly to one another. If only two computers are being connected, this can be accomplished using a cross-over network cable. One end of the cable is simply plugged into the first computer and the other end in the second computer. Such a network cannot be expanded in any way, however, as there are no more ends on the cable.

To grow this type of network, a network switch is required. The switch is a device that has multiple ports, allowing multiple devices to attach to it. A different cable from each computer is plugged into the switch, then each computer is configured with a protocol to talk to each other. The de facto standard is the Internet Protocol Suite, also known as TCP/IP, and it will most likely be installed on each computer already. This simple way of setting up a home network should allow each computer to talk to the others using the basic installation of the operating system.

A wired router can be used to set up a home network.
A wired router can be used to set up a home network.

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