Home Networking Made Easy

Dennis Faas's picture

I just recently moved to a new address; actually, I moved to the next county. ;-)

In the process, I had to drop my Internet provider (Yahoo DSL) and had to go with a local cable provider because of availability. The process was not smooth but it was eventually completed and I was back online once all the pieces were connected together.

I got to thinking about the steps I took to reconnect my network of computers in order to share Internet, and came to the conclusion that the process was straightforward enough that article would be in order.

With DSL access, your Internet provider will typically supply you with a DSL modem, a couple of phone line filters, and cables. With a cable Internet access, it's pretty much the same, minus the line filters.

To create a Home Network in order to share Internet with all the computers requires an additional Ethernet router / hub / router + switch, plus cabling for each PC.

For all intents and purposes, it's best if you start off with a router for your home network because routers offer something called "NAT" (network address translation) technology. In a nutshell, "NAT allows a single device, such as a router, to act as an agent between the Internet (or 'public network') and a local (or 'private') network. This means that only a single, unique IP address is required to represent an entire group of computers." (Source: howStuffWorks.com)

On a related note, hubs and switches don't support NAT. If you use a hub (or switch) direct to your cable or DSL modem, you will undoubtedly run into issues when attempting to connect 2 or more computers to your Internet provider.

Beyond that, hooking things up is relatively simple since all you need to do is run the Ethernet cable from the router to each computer you want accessing the Internet. You then connect the modem to the router, and power up your system.

If you're using Windows XP, each computer should already be automatically configured to use DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), which basically assigns a unique IP address to each computer on the home network.

As for deciding on which router to purchase: there are several options to choose from. The one I chose is the Linksys Wired Broadband Router. Installation is simple (once again) and should not take but a few minutes to complete. The manufacturer's try very hard to make it easy to install and usually provide documentation that explains the process systematically.

The Linksys Router I bought supports DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) with multiple IP addresses and an SPI-based firewall as well, so for a few dollars, you can have a safe and secure home network running in next to no time at all.

As you can see, it is not all that difficult to hook everybody in the house up to the Internet. The hardest part about setting up a home network is running the cabling from the Router to the various rooms in the house.

If you are tired of the Dial-up environment and tying up your phone for hours when you try to crawl your way around the Internet, it just might be a good time to change your connection! Wi-Fi is yet another issue you could consider. The costs are a bit higher and security issues a bit harder to resolve, but all that is required is to either specify Wireless to the DSL vendor or purchase a Wireless Router, but that is a subject for another day.

Have Fun!

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