How to set up your computer network in 7 simple steps

Setting up your own network has become easier in recent years, as technology has improved. With increased sophistication, many of the networking components, such as those available from Castle Computers, automatically connect and communicate with each other, meaning that there is less technological jargon to decipher, and fewer hoops to jump through.

Step 1: Understanding why you need or want a network

In the modern household, there is more than one technological device. From smart phones to tablets, to the desktop PCs and laptops, all these gadgets and pieces of equipment can be linked together onto a network within the home.

There are many benefits why this is a good idea. For example, printing is just one computing aspect that can cause immense frustration. You may have come across a great article online, fancy printing it off but to do that, you have to email it from one machine to another, as the one you are on is not connected to the printer. Those days are over.

Thus answering the question, ‘what do you want your network to do?’ will help decide which configuration will work best:

  • Networks can facilitate communication via email, video conferencing, instant messaging and so on
  • More than one user can access a device such as a printer or scanner
  • Files can be shared across a network
  • Software and other programs can be shared
  • Information is easier to access from all points across the network

Networks are a great way of getting more use out all the laptops and so on, in your home.

Step 2: The size of the network – draw a plan

It pays to plan the network and work out what will be connected. In all honesty, if you are connecting more than 15 to 20 devices, it would pay to being in a consummate professional as the equipment needed is more than a smaller, home or small business network.

For a wireless network, you may find that the access points to the internet will need to be increased.

Step 3: Wired or wireless

The likelihood is, that your home is a wireless domain when it comes to how you access the internet. With no wired hanging from tablet or laptop, you can surf the web as if by magic.

Networks can also work along the same lines, so to speak, with wireless technology not only increasing in reliability and improved quality of signal, but in cost too.

Many people find the wireless option more attractive simply because it means less cables and, wireless systems are sometimes easier to configure.

Step 4: The equipment

If you have a relatively up to date system of computers – Windows Vista, Windows XP or Apple Mac OS X – the networking capabilities are already part of their genetic make-up, hence it is relatively easy to set up.

At its most basic, a network can be a cable that connects two computers together. For larger networking systems, you may need an additional wireless or wired router.

To set up a wireless network, you will need a wireless router connected to your broadband, and a cable that links the router to the main PC on your soon-to-be network. This PC will act as a server, and through this, all other laptops, notebooks and so on can access the wireless signals and join the local area network (LAN).

Step 5: IP address and technical know-how

It is a common worry of the inexperienced that connecting computers will be a feat of technological knowledge but, with most modern machines and programs, a lot of the technical wizardry such as IP addresses will be provided for you. In many cases, you will be guided through the set-up of connecting computer to a network.

However, understanding IP address can be helpful in understanding why there are different digits and why they are assigned in the pattern that they are.

Step 6: Secure it

Once you have your network up and running, it pays to protect it. In other words, only users that you give the code to can access your network and signal. You can do this via the security settings on the router or operating system.

Wireless encryption protocol – also known as WEP – is the password used to encrypt network traffic. You may also want to consider the use of passwords on your computers too.

Step 7: Open the network to a host of possibilities

Many people think that home networks are just for file and print operations but there are other things that it can be used for. Consider the possibility of a network attached storage (NAS) device to store information, and back up the system, for example.

Don’t forget, as wireless technology increases, you can network your smart cameras, and other multimedia receivers too.

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