Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Network building blocks

You'll need to base your network on one or more of the network technologies, or types, described below. In every case, however, you'll need these basics:
  • One computer equipped with Windows XP and Internet access. This computer will serve as the network's central unit, or Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) host. It should be your fastest, most capable machine.
  • One or more additional computers running Windows XP, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 98 Second Edition, or Windows 98. These computers are called clients and will connect to the ICS host.
  • Individual network adapter for each computer
You can include Windows 95, Windows 2000, Macintosh or UNIX/Linux computers on your home network. However, these computers may require additional software to allow you to share folders or a printer. Consult the documentation that came with those computers.

Network types

While there are several different network types, this article explains the three most popular types for home networks:
  • Ethernet - the current standard technology and the one used by most businesses; links computers via special cable and a device called a hub.
  • HPNA (home phoneline network adapter) - links computers via existing household telephone wiring.
  • Wireless - links computers without wiring, by using radio signals.

The following table lists other properties, advantages and disadvantages of each network type:

Hardware needed in addition to network adapter
Ethernet RJ-45 cables and a network hub.
Telephone cables and phone jacks
May need an access point, a piece of hardware that acts as a central transmitter of radio signals between computers. Using an access point allows networking between any two computers on the system and expands the area radio signals are sent.
Currently the fastest, most reliable, least costly network technology. Most DSL and cable modems use Ethernet connections.
Easy installation; computers simply plug into ordinary phone jacks.
Mobile; you can move your laptop or desktop computer from room to room while remaining connected to the network.
Requires cables linking computers or Ethernet wiring (similar to phone wiring) installed in walls.
Requires a phone jack near each computer.
All networked computers must be within a specified distance to communicate with each other. Currently, wireless networks lack some of the capability of networks using physical connections. The cost of an access point is an additional expense to setting up the system.

Network adapters

All computers on a network require a hardware device called a network adapter. The easiest and fastest network adapters to install are external; that is, they connect to a computer via the USB port on the outside of the machine.
Internal network adapters must be installed inside the computer, requiring you to open or remove the computer housing. It is recommended that a qualified technician install an internal network adapter.



Network terms
Cable modem – A modem that connects a computer to a cable TV service that delivers Internet access.

DSL – (Digital Subscriber Line); A technology that greatly increases the capacity of ordinary telephone wires to carry digital information.

Hub – A hardware device that connects network components at a central location and transfers data between all of them.

RJ-45 cable – (Registered Jack-45); Eight-wire telephone cable used for linking computers to a local area network (LAN).