If you have more that one PC in your home or small office, you should have some kind of network. There are a number of reasons why:
- To share information including documents, pictures and music
- To share resources such as printers, cameras, scanners.
- To share a single Internet Connection through a single router.
- To install and use a Hardware Firewall.
- And many others.
There are different types of Network Configurations. The one pictured above is the most common, using a Modem, Wireless Router and Cat-5 Ethernet cable. (In some cases the Modem and Wireless Router are contained in a single unit). This is known as an Ethernet Configuration.
Another type of configuration is to use a Ethernet Crossover Cable. You can connect TWO computers directly by using a crossover cable. Other methods are USB Direct Link and Infrared.
What type of Hardware do I need?
Ethernet networks are the most popular and easy to set up. Almost all computers, come with the required Network Interface Card or NIC. You can purchase cables, hubs, switches and routers at your local computer store.
These are the components and what each does:
NIC - Network Interface Card - A NIC is a PCI card that is installed inside your computer. It can also be intergraded into the mother board. There are also external device in the form of a converter which plugs into one of the PC's USB ports. Each computer on the Network must have a NIC of some sort. Picture below is a PCI card NIC.
PCI Network Interface Card
RJ45- Ethernet Plug and Socket on NIC at rear of computer.
ETHERNET CABLE. You will need one cable for each computer that is to be connected to the network, except for those computers that will use Wireless. Picture below is a close up of a CAT-5 connecter, which is on each end of the Ethernet cable.
You have three choices for networking your PCs: Hubs, switches and routers. They all look pretty much the same, but they each perform differently and offer different levels of performance and security.
A HUB is the lowliest of the three and is therefore the least expensive item to buy. Hubs contain multiple Ethernet ports. Hubs generally copy all incoming data to all other ports on the network even though the data may be required at only one port. This slows down the network.
Switches also contain multiple Ethernet ports. A Switch filters and forwards data rather than just forwarding data to everyone on the network. A Switch uses a technology called transparent bridging to send out a broadcast signal to locate where to send the data prior to sending it.
Routers are the best choice for a home network with a shared internet connection. A router combines the functions of a hub, switch and a Firewall, offering a much better option for keeping your network safe. A router is also much smarter than a hub or switch. A router determines where data should be sent and the fastest way to get it there. It does this by keeping a table of the fastest routes from one point to another, so network speed is enhance. Routers provide better protection against hackers than software firewalls do, because IP addresses are never exposed directly to the internet. The Private IP address the router assigns to your computer is not routable. This makes scanning the local network impossible. Routers are available for wired or wireless networks.
Wireless Adapters are required for a computer to connect to a wireless network. Newer laptops have a wireless adapter built-in other wise you'll need to purchase a wireless adapter.
What is a Wireless Network ?
A Wireless Network is part of your Local Area Network (LAN) set up by using radio signals to communicate between computers and other network devices such as printers and routers. Sometimes it's also referred to as a WiFi network or WLAN. One important item to remember, Wifi is NOT an internet connection in itself, just an extension of an existing internet connection. You still need a means to connect your LAN to the internet such as DSL/Cable Modem as show above.
A Wireless Hot Spot is a location equipped with wireless devices for you and others to join the network and this network has an Internet Connection.
>There are several different wireless networking technologies: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n and 802.11y. (n) & (y) are scheduled for release at a latter date. Make sure you purchase a router that offers 802.11g such as the D-Link DI-524 or DI-624.
The Router converts the signals coming across your Network into a wireless broadcast, similar to a cordless phone base station. Be sure to get a Wireless Router and not a wireless access point.
In addition to the wireless router, each computer that intends to utilize the wireless network will require a wireless network adapter. Network adapters wirelessly connect your computer to your wireless router. To make setup easy, choose a network adapter made by the same vendor that made your wireless router.
Wireless Routers let you access your network, using a wireless connection, from virtually anywhere within its operating range. The number, thickness and location of walls, ceilings, or other objects that the wireless signals must pass through, may limit the range. Keep the number of walls and ceiling between devices to a minimum. Each wall or ceiling can reduce the routers range from 1 to 30 meters. Position your router so that the number of walls or ceilings is minimized. Position devices so the signal will travel straight through a wall or ceiling (instead of at an angle) for better reception.
Building materials can impede the wireless signal - a solid metal door or aluminium studs may have a negative effect on range. Keep the router away from electrical devices or appliances that generate extreme RF noise.
Unplug the network cable from the back of your computer and plug it into the WAN or WLAN port of the back of the Wireless Router.
Using the network cable that came with your Wireless Router, temporarily connect your computer to one of the LAN ports on the Wireless Router.
Connect the power adapter to the Wireless Router and turn it on.
Open Internet Explorer and type in the address to configure your router. The address, password and username will vary depending of what type of router you have. Refer to the instructions included with your router. As a quick reference, here is a list that shows some common router manufactures (IP address - username - password)
3Com - 192.168.1.1 - admin - admin
D-Link - 192.168.0.1 - admin - leave blank
Linksys - 192.168.15.1 - admin - admin
Netgear - 192.168.0.1 - admin - password
Internet Explorer will show you the router's configuration page. Most of the default settings should work ok, but you should configure three items:
Your wireless network name or SSID. You should choose something unique that none of your neighbors will be using. Also, do not choose something that could identify you or your address.
Wireless encryption. Choose WPA-PSK and a good passphrase.
Your administrative password for altering the router settings.
Apply or Save your changes and reboot the router.
Connect your computers:
If your computer does not have wireless network support built in, plug your network adapter into you USB port, and place the antenna on top your your computer, or insert the network adapter into an empty PC Card Slot. Windows will automatically detect the new adapter, and may prompt you to insert the CD that came with the adapter. The on-screen instructions will guide you through the configuration process.
NOTE: The steps below only apply if you're using VISTA or Windows XP with Service Pack 2.
Windows should show an icon with a notification that says it has found a wireless network.
Right Click the wireless network icon in the lower right corner of your screen, and then click View Available Wireless Networks.
The second ICON - PC with the Red X and radio waves emitting - is the Wireless ICON
The Wireless Network Connection window should appear and you should see your wireless network listed with the network SSID name you chose.
Select the network you want to connect to and then click on CONNECT.
Windows will prompt you to enter the key that you selected when configuring the router.. IF all goes well you should see this notification.
If the software that came with your wireless adapter is running you will not see the same display as shown above when you click on the wireless ICON.
You will get a window that looks like this:
If you get this notice you need to turn on the Windows Wireless Service.
To turn on this service, Click on START > CONTROL PANEL. In Control Panel Click on Administrative Tools then on Services.
Right Click on "Wireless Zero Configuration:
Click on START and wait for the service to start then click on OK. Now go back and click on the wireless ICON.
- This page last updated on 2 Sep 2017