Internet access and setup

A few years ago most people’s concept of a home network was the link between the only PC in the house and the printer. Anything beyond that was in the realm of the geeks.

Not so now; as more and more technological devices have become commonplace in homes and home offices, so home networking has developed and become accessible to all, though sometimes enlisting the help of an expert for advice on equipment, connectiviity and set-up can save you a lot of time, money and effort.

What’s the point of a home network? Essentially, it provides you with the same level of capability as a traditional office set-up, allowing you to share files,documents, games, music, videos and the like. In households where there might be a gaming PC in the sitting room, a couple of laptops upstairs and a couple of desktops in the office/study, a home network provides the spine to connect up all these devices and their peripherals.

Each device can be set up to share all its files with the other machines if required; they can all access the same internet connection, doing away with the need for multiple contracts. All the devices can share one printer/scanner and they provide back-up capability to each other for important files (Copying your important stuff over to a couple of the other machines via the network makes it almost certain that you won’t be in big trouble if the primary computer fails on you at some point).

The Essential Ingredients

  • More than one PC/laptop
  • A router
  • Network Software
  • Hardwired network or a wireless set-up
  • Input/output hardware such as scanners/copiers etc
  • A firewall (if you intend to connect to the web)
  • A broadband package which can cope with the number of devices which will be running at one time and the data they will transmit

What Types of Network Can you Build?

The two most popular types are ethernet (also known as “hardwired”)and wireless. However if neither of these is suitable, other options are available using USB or firewire ports on PCs or by making use of the house’s existing power or phone line networks.

Hardwired Networks

Most houses don’t have under-floor or in-skirting board ducting to allow unobtrusive cable installation. From a cosmetic viewpoint , running ethernet cable around a house with solid walls may not be the most attractive option. Nor is it the most flexible; there is little point in having a laptop for mobility if it has to be connected up to the network via a static port! Also, depending on how big the house is, and how many devices need connecting, the cost of installing Category 5 cabling can quickly mount up. Cheaper alternatives to CAT5 cabling already installed in your home are the power and telephone circuits you have had for years or broadband cable connections connected up with a router via coaxial cables similar to those which already provide TV feed. One of the benefits of hardwiring is that message traffic is more secure as the network is self-contained and not being transmitted through the atmosphere.

 

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