Setting up a home network sounds like a job left to a computer specialist, but it can be done by just about everyone with little or no technical knowledge. If you have a broadband modem, the technology used is the same with the use of a Ethernet cord, only that more than one computer is involved. All that is needed is a few items to have a network set up in you very own home.
Home Networking Check-list:
- Network Interface Card (NIC)
- Router Hub (for wired or wireless computers and devices)
- Ethernet Cords
- Windows 7 operating system or older, other operating systems with networking features
Having a Windows 7 operating system in particular makes setting up a home network trouble-free with the new HomeGroup feature. When a computer joins a HomeGroup, the computer automatically shares files and printers without going through loops, and it is protected with a password that only you and your family knows for added security. But for computers with older version of Windows, adjustments are in order to get the most out of your home networking experience.
Network Interface Cards
To set up a home network, you will need a Network Interface Card. Most desktop PCs have these already installed. NICs have an Ethernet port that looks a lot like a phone jack, but only wider. NICs are installed inside the computer as with any internal device and may require installation from a professional PC specialist.
NICs can be installed personally, keeping in mind to disconnect all power sources and prevent static electricity from entering the motherboard components before opening the PC. If the NIC has an antennae for wireless usage, it can be used without the need for a Ethernet cord. For laptops, network cards may be built-in already along with a wireless card. If a wireless modem is not available on the laptop, these can be purchased and installed into the expansion bay found on either side of the laptop.
Next, you will need a router. A router connects computers together in a network (Local Area Network) setting, enabling the computers to share files between systems. Additionally, routers can be used as a Wireless Access Point (WAP) for other computers using a wireless networking card and for other devices with Wi-Fi technology. Wireless devices are becoming very popular for home networking as it eliminates the hassle of using Ethernet cords that could produce a tripping hazard.
There are a lot routers to choose, but finding the best wireless router may cost more as an inexpensive router may fail to deliver the best results. A favourite hub for home networking specialists is the Netgear router. It acts as both a local network hub and wireless access point supporting newer 'G' and legacy 'B' signal technology, and it has powerful security features to prevent individuals from prying into personal information.
Connecting the Computers Together
After connecting the computers for the new home network, it is time to set up the operating systems to recognize the new LAN network. Visit the router's settings address, which can be found at the 'http://localhost' address or from the URL found in the operating manual or under the router. Enter the details that were originally used for the broadband modem to connect to the Internet. All computers and devices in the network should now be connected to the Internet through the router.
If a computer has a different version of the Windows operating system, the steps of setting up a home network are unique on every edition. To share a folder or printer on the network, the file sharing option should be enabled by visiting the Control Panel and the Network Connections area. Right click on the Local Area Connection icon and select properties to enable File and Printer Sharing.
Once it is enabled, you can now share files and print documents between computers on one network in your home. To share a folder with other computers, right click on the folder and select Properties and go to the 'Sharing' tab to share. Repeat these steps for every computer in the home to share files without walking the computer to retrieve the file with a USB stick again.