Setting Up a Wireless Network

Setting Up a Wireless Network

For the uninitiated, setting up a home network can seem like a challenge with so many steps to perform and new technologies to learn. Yet as computing becomes more ubiquitous, homes without networks for their occupants or guests will become increasingly more limiting. If you've never set up a home network before, here are a few pointers to help you get started.

Broadly speaking, there are two networks that you must connect when setting up your home network. The first includes your router and all of your computers, laptops, phones and other devices you wish to access. This is referred to as the Local Area Network or LAN. The other network is the internet at large, the Wide Area Network or WAN. By starting with the WAN and moving in toward the LAN, understanding how to set up your home network becomes easier.

In most cases, you'll want a WAN to which to connect. Such connectivity is usually acquired from Internet Service Providers or ISPs, which use a variety of methods to connect your LAN to the larger network. Perhaps the most common method in North America is cable internet, which uses your existing cable television infrastructure to deliver a high-speed internet connection. Other methods include DSL, which uses phone lines, and satellite, which relies upon radio signals. Each method has its associated advantages and disadvantages.

When you've acquired an internet connection, your next step is to purchase a router. This is the point at which the WAN will connect to the many devices and computers on your LAN. Often, routers communicate with your LAN either wirelessly or via wires known as ethernet cables. Most modern routers include both.

As you might imagine, wireless network installation is generally easiest. You need only configure your router to serve a secure, wireless signal and any device within many feet of the router can easily and quickly connect. There are some disadvantages to wireless networks which may make the impracticality and inconvenience of running wires a more attractive option, however.

First, wireless networks are generally unsecure by default. If you don't know that they must be secured, or aren't sure how, most of the information you send and receive can be read by anyone within range of your router's signal.

Wireless signals can also be interfered with by other devices. For instance, microwave oven use can drastically degrade the performance of many wireless signals in some circumstances. They can also periodically drop out and, while connections are usually quickly re-established, such drops can be inconvenient at best or a huge issue at worst.

Whether you choose to go wireless or wired, most network configuration from this point onward simply involves plugging in devices or configuring them to connect with the router's wireless service. Most modern routers make this incredibly simple while simultaneously providing facilities for more advanced network administrators to resolve issues or to create more complex setups.

Of course, problems can certainly arise, and in those instances there are many resources available to help. In many cases, Google and other search engines are invaluable in finding the answers you need. Other online resources such as forums and mailing lists are also great sources of help in resolving home networking issues.

Allen Taigom writes about Setting Up A Wireless Network [] at []

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