The first thing that you need to decide while planning out your home network is if your network is to be wired or wireless. The concept in each case will remain the same, wherein all your computers will connect up to a central router, which will negotiate the connections to your ISP through a cable or a DSL modem.
It is a common fact that a wireless home network provides much more convenience than a wired network. Wireless networks do not require cabling, and allow users to move from one room to another with freedom.
Wired Home Network
In the case of wired networks, the entire setup is known as a Local Area Network (LAN), wherein small bundles of cables are used, making the network available in every room of your house. These cables can be used for a phone line or a computer connection. Usually, a minimum of one Ethernet cable is required in a room.
A standard bundle of wire contains four cables:
- Cat5e Ethernet cable for a phone
- A coaxial cable which will provide input from a DVD player
The cables lead to a common area where the phone lines can be split and the computer ports can be patched to a panel with jacks. Now, each computer is patched with a short Ethernet cable into the network router to gain access to the Internet.
Wireless Home Network
In the case of wireless networks, the entire system is known as Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). This type of network has gained such immense popularity over the last five years, that now a wireless node at a coffee place is a common thing.
The most common factor that affects the range of your wireless network at home is the wireless access point placed inside the house, the materials used in the construction of the house, and any other physical obstructions between your devices and the node.
You have to decide on the kind of network that you want for your house depending on the various pros and cons of each type. Here are some networking tips that will help you make the system more robust and secure.
- Ensure that you have changed the default username and password for administrator accounts, especially if you are using a wireless network. Hackers can easily access your network from outside the building and can hack into your system, as all routers come with standard passwords.
- Ensure that the firewall on all the computers and routers is turned on. Revoke rights that can allow users to turn the firewall off. Installing additional personal software on each computer will help you make your system more secure.
- Assign static IP addresses to each of the computers in the network. Ensure that you set up a private IP address range to prevent your computers to be directly accessible from the Internet.
- Set the 'Auto Connect to Wi-Fi' option off. You computer may accidentally connect to a neighboring network, which can pose severe security threats.
- In case you have a wireless network setup, then change the default SSID immediately. Also, ensure that you have disabled the SSID broadcast feature on your network router.
- The network should be turned off when not in use. Though turning it on and off frequently is not a feasible solution, it should be turned off when not required.
- Enable and use Wired Equivalency Frequency (WEP) which will help encrypt all the data exchanged over your router.
- Enable MAC address filtering on your network. You will have to provide MAC addresses to all your computers to turn the filtering on. A MAC address is very difficult to fake, and increases the security of a network tremendously.
- Use a non-standard channel for your wireless network which will make it difficult for hackers to access your network.
You may need to network your home computers due to a home-based business, or simply for the convenience of connecting all the computers in your house together. You can choose a wired or a wireless network weighing all the pros and cons. But ensure that you keep your network secure from malicious users and viruses.