Home Computer Networking Basics

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Today, many families have multiple computers in their house. For all of their computers to be connected to the Internet, people use what is called a network. Networks allow us to connect a wide range of devices, not just computers, to send data and information between themselves. In home networking, there are two main types of networks, wireless and Ethernet. A router is used in both types to split and direct the flow of information to different devices. Most of the newer routers are capable of creating a wireless and Ethernet based network. But before a network can be created, there needs to be a firewall. Firewalls are either software or hardware devices usually in a modem or router that block unwanted activity on your network. They aim to stop hackers and viruses from getting into computers or similar devices.

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The easiest and cheapest type of way of creating a network is a wireless (wifi) network. Wireless networks work by sending out a digital signal to all devices in rage. The signal sent out is “802.11g”. Wireless routers can send the signal out over an average 100 feet. The signal strength can very depending on the amount of walls and floors it has to go through and the shape of the house. For example, I have a wireless router connected to the modem in my kitchen. The kitchen is roughly twenty feet away separated by a couple walls. Despite the walls, the PC in my bedroom receives good signal, usually at four out of five bars. On the device’s end of the signal, there needs to be a receiver.

The receivers decode and interpret what is being sent from the router. Wireless receivers are now standard in laptops and can even be put in desktops quite easily. More and more households are converting to wireless networks due to increased use of mobile devices like laptops and personal digital assistants. When a wireless network is set up, it must be protected even further than a firewall. This type of protecting allows people to set their signal to be exclusive to certain devices. Currently there are three main ways of protecting a network: WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy), WPA (WiFi Protected Access), and MAC (Media Access Control.) Doing this prevents neighbors or any other people with the network’s range from connecting.

The second type of networks is an . Ethernet is the name for cables that resemble large phone wires. Ethernet cables were developed to have a way to connect devices while having a high bandwidth speed. To have an Ethernet connection there needs to be an Ethernet splitter. That is a type of router that has multiple ports to connect Ethernet cables that can branch off to different devices. After the cable is connected to a computer, a driver must be run on the computer to allow the flow of data to be allowed to enter. On average, an Ethernet connecting will be faster than a wireless connection. The speed of an Ethernet connection is about its only advantage over wireless. The cost of buying Ethernet cables can get very expensive, especially if there is a network between many computers and devices. Another disadvantage to Ethernet is that there needs to be cables run to each device. This can be troublesome trying to hide all of the cables running across a house or office.

Now that you know about the different types of home PC networks, go out and set up your own customized network of computers. Do you need wireless connectivity, for laptops or for getting rid of messy cables, or do you want the reliability and dependability of ethernet based networks? Computer networks, like computers themselves, can be made to fit the exact needs of the consumer.