When it comes to purchasing a computer network for your home or business, it becomes a task of connecting one or more computers, thus allowing them to communicate with one another. The simplest form of home computer network consists of a single computer and an Internet connection. In this case, it’s a simply matter of finding an Internet Service Provider (ISP), purchasing a wireless or wired modem, and hooking everything up.
If you’re not a computer expert, the ISP of your choice will do the work for you. Many providers like Qwest and Comcast offer fairly low monthly rates for their services, and in some cases you can bundle those service to include your phone and cable television, which saves you money in the long run.
But what happens when you want to add more computers or even construct a wireless network? With right equipment, you can add one or more computers, laptops, printers and/or devices to your existing network and open up a lot of new ways to communicate online.
Whether you’re looking to connect a network in your home or business, this guide will help you familiarize yourself with the terminology, equipment, and standards needed to purchase and assemble a network.
IP addresses: Whenever your computer is connected to the Internet, it is identified by a string of numbers known as an IP address. IP, an acronym for Internet Protocol, is a set of standards that allow computers on a network to communicate with one another. An IP address works a lot like your home address in that it serves as a unique location or identifier for single computers.
Ethernet: Much like an IP address, ethernet is a set of standards, but it’s used for physical connections between computers and other networked devices. Ethernet connections look a lot like the phone jacks in your home, and the cables look similar to phone lines. Most computers, cable modems, and routers already come equipped with some type of ethernet interface.
Modems: In order to make the proper network connections, you’ll also need a cable modem or digital DSL modem. The best way to connect multiple computers to your modem is through routers, switches, and hubs (explained below).
Routers: A router lets you to connect multiple computers to your cable modem using the same IP address. Wireless routers are also available to help you connect your networked devices.
Internet connections: If you have a broadband connection through an ISP, you can share that connection with multiple computers within your home or place of business.
If you’re setting up a home network, you can also use you the electrical wiring in your home, instead of ethernet cables. This provides a great option for connecting multiple floors of your home where installing ethernet cables can become a hassle.
Network security: Connecting your computer to the Internet introduces certain risks. To protect your network from hackers and unauthorized users, it’s essential to install the proper firewall software and hardware for your protection and peace of mind.