A home network is a way of making it possible for computers to communicate with one another. A household with a home network and multiple computers can share an internet connection, files and documents, printers, print servers, scanners, stereos, TVs, and game systems.

What does it take to set up a home network? Assuming you already have multiple computers (or mobile devices), you’re going to need a router or some other kind of home networking hardware and the right software. For a home network, this software is generally built into the operating system but can also be used as a separate application. Finally, the information will need to transfer from one computer to another, so you’re going to need to create a middle ground through which this information can transfer.

The most common methods of setting up home networks generally involve either using wireless or Ethernet networks. In both cases, the principal component is a router that directs the traffic between the connected devices. If you connect a router up to your dial-up, DSL or cable modem, you open up the door for multiple computers using one connection to the internet.

ethernet cableWired networks are thought of as more secure, plus they generally move data faster than wireless networks. They’re also generally very affordable, though the cost of Ethernet cables can add up if you’re trying to wire up your mansion. Ethernet cables are also difficult to install gracefully in a house that’s already been built; they’ll need to run up your walls and loop all over your house, plus if you have one hooked into your computer, you’ve greatly limited your mobility.

There are three systems people use to set up wired networks; an Ethernet system uses a twisted copper-pair or coaxial-based transport system that utilizes category 5 unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable, but the cable is so expensive and difficult to install that this option is generally reserved for businesses. Then there’s the wired system that uses only your phone line, which is an easy transition to make in households. Finally, there’s the option of broadband systems, which provide cable internet the same way you receive cable television.

Wireless networks are easy and inexpensive to set up in your home because they allow for computers to transfer information to one another using radio waves as opposed to wires. This allows for greater device mobility for the user, but also generally produces lower-speed internet. You’ll need a wireless router to set up a wireless network, and you should keep in mind that signals from a wireless router generally extend only 100 feet. That 100-foot signal can also be interrupted by walls, so you may need to purchase a range extender or repeater to get coverage to your entire house.

wireless ethernet bridgeEvery computer that is connected to the wireless network will need a wireless adapter. Computers have been created with built-in wireless adapters for years, but if you’re hanging on to a device that doesn’t have that capability you can always just use a wireless Ethernet bridge.

Home networks also necessitate a firewall, which can come in the form of hardware or software. Regardless, its function is to protect your network from malicious hackers. Firewalls are as necessary for home owners as they are for large businesses; assuming you use the internet for online banking, you have a lot to lose.

Often software firewalls will at first block all incoming information from your device until you give your permission to receive it; eventually it then learns what kind of information you want to receive and what kind of information you don’t.

Hope this helps!