Have you ever thought about networking your computers at home? If you have few computers in your house, you can connect each other to share data, software, and hardware including a single Internet connection. There are many creative uses for home networking, however it’s an ideal situation when upgrading each computer to the same capability is financially out of the question. On a home network, each computer has access to the equipment of the another machine in the network and can share its resources.
There are two viable options, wired network – more secured, little inconvenient because of wires and a wireless network, less secured, more convenient. We’ll go for wired network in this article.
The wire based ethernet network setup is easiest and cheaper to install. While there are many other options, such as T1 lines from your local ISP, or wireless networks from a cable company, ethernet is a very simple installation. It requires network cards for each PC (most computer have it pre-installed), a cable for each computer, and a router. The network card is similar to the old modems we used in the past to connect to the Internet, however in a home network, it’s used to communicate with every computer that’s connected to it.
You’ll want to first, select the computers that will connect to each other and then install the network cards inside each of them. Most computers purchased after 2003 usually have network interfaces built in. All you’ll need is to connect a cable to each computer that will communicate with the server. These cables won’t connect to the server directly. Instead, they’ll connect to the router. To enable Internet access for each computer, this router will need to connect with a modem provided by your ISP.
Once the hardware is set up correctly you can then setup the network from Windows on each machine. Within Windows, you can set up a home network similar to the way that you set up an Internet connection. Only this time, you’ll set up a LAN (Local Area Network) connection.
Windows should walk you through setting up a LAN after starting the computer and once complete, you can begin to connect one of your machines to the network. You can do this through Internet Explorer by typing in the address and password required to access the router (the address and password required to access the router will be in the router manual).
Connected to the network, each computer can send files back and forth, open programs on a remote computer, play the sound files and videos located on another computer, and share a single Internet account to browse the web, download files. If a single printer is available on only one computer in the network, every connected PC can send documents to it and print them out. Kids will enjoy the ability to play multi-player games and adults will enjoy the ability to blast a single message to everyone at once or maintain a group schedule.
Since we’re describing a home network that will connect to the Internet, you’re strongly advised to install a protective firewall program to thwart Internet viruses, worms, or other damaging spyware code. Firewalls prevent – but they don’t repair. Only anti-virus and anti-spyware programs can reverse damage. So you should install a firewall on the computer that grants access to the computer, and then install an anti-virus and anti-spyware program on each of the remaining computers in the network.
If you have files that shouldn’t be shared (bank statements, credit card information, etc.), you can restrict their access in one of several ways. You can put them in a new folder and then remove the “read” permissions for that folder. Or you can specify who can (and who cannot) access specific files with a password from within Windows Control Panel. Enjoy your enhanced productivity and your home network. We’ll talk out setting up Wireless network in another article.