Setting Up a Home Network
Networking, or connecting computers together to share information, has long been one of the more difficult areas of basic computing to get a grasp on, mainly because it is one of those points at which the generally friendly user interface of your average Windows box starts showing cracks, or possibly gaping holes ready to swallow up the unsuspecting user.
Now granted, since Windows 98 started the process, Microsoft’s operating systems have been getting progressively better at automating the process of connecting computers together, but there is still the external setup required, and if something goes wrong… well it’s good to know where to look to fix it.
First, some important terms. Skip them if you know them.
Ethernet Network adaptor: An internal device that allows computers to communicate with each other via electrical signals passed through cable. Also known as a NIC (Network Interface Card).
Hub: An external device with multiple connections (ports). A computer attached to one port can communicate with computers attached to any of the other ports. They are available in many sizes, most commonly 5 ports.
Switch: Similar to a hub, but more efficient. While a hub will send data it receives from one port out all its other ports and let the computers attached to it figure out who the data is intended for, a switch stores information about the computers connected to it, then sends data only to the computer it is addressed to.
Firewall: A term for a software program or hardware device which can restrict specific kinds of data from passing into (or in some cases, out of) your network from the internet. Used for security purposes.
Cable/DSL router: Network devices which combine the functions of a switch and a firewall. They also provide the ability to easily share a DSL or cable Internet connection.
By default, all Windows operating systems use the TCP/IP protocol suite to communicate with each other through network devices. We’ll look at this vital method of addressing computers on the next page.
- Turn off your modem and your router
- Connect a network cable from an available port on your modem to the internet port (usually coloured yellow) on your router
- Connect another cable from an available port on your router to a network port on your main computer
- Power on your modem and wait 30 seconds
- Power on your router and wait a minute
If you are setting up a wired network, you are basically finished. The router is designed to work out of the box.
There is one more thing that you should do, you should change the router password to a secure, hard to guess password. Don’t forget this password because if you do you can get back into the router by resetting it but you will lose any settings that you might have made.
Written by The Original PC Doctor on 6/4/2010.