Read these 15 Networking Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about PC tips and hundreds of other topics.
One of the not-so-known pitfalls of creating a wireless network system is security. Sending data through radio waves could be prime pickings for hackers. However, there are a couple of measures you can take to reduce the chances of this happening. First, if you have an infrastructure system you may want to beef up security on your router or base station. You can do this by setting a password to access the system. Also, create an encryption setting for sending all of your data. This will scramble all messages sent so they can't be intercepted mid route.
One of the more popular LAN systems is called the Ethernet. This system uses Ethernet cables to connect all of the computers. Usually the best way to organize this system is to have everything feed into one central area called the Hub or the Network Switch. Devices like D-Link - DSS-24+ are perfect for handling a number of computers. When setting up this system make sure all computers can accept Ethernet Cables. If not adapters are available.
Just like anything you attempt to do in the computer world the best thing you can do is have lots of patience. Unfortunately, it's a rare occurrence when everything goes right the first time. Some of the more common home networking problems are:
- Cables won't reach to every computer.
- Not every computer is registering on the network.
- Computers can't get on the net or access applications
- Networking cards not properly installed
If space is an issue for your home network system you might want to consider a wireless network system. Basically you'd still be linking all of your computers and peripherals. Only instead of having wires snake throughout the house you would be using radio waves. To do this you would need wireless adaptors for all your devices. Adaptors like D-Link DWL-122 are optimal because they have a range of over 300ft.
Family game night can take on a whole new meaning with a LAN system. No more crowding around a tiny game board. Begging to take turns on a computer game console. Network games allow users to play from their own computer. They can be linked through any LAN system. However, before blasting off make sure all participating computers are fully connected.
Of course, ditching the wires of your LAN system offers you new freedoms like the ease of traveling and more space. However there is a price to pay…literally. While most Ethernet adapter cards won't run too much, wireless adaptor cards might be three times as much. Also, depending on the strength of the signal you might not always get those blazing fast speeds that you are used to with a wired network. However, the good news is technology is constantly advancing. Which means, so will the wireless network.
There are two major forms of wireless networking. Ad-hoc and Infrastructure. Ad-hoc Wireless Networking is creating a wireless system where computers directly communicate with each other. Infrastructure, has computers all communicating through one central device. For this system a base station needs to be purchased in order for the linking to occur. If you're looking for the cheaper route Ad-hoc is obviously the way to go. However, if money isn't an issue you might want to consider the infrastructure network because of its ability to link up with other networks.
In the span of 20 years computers went from a novelty to a commonplace. Today, people bring home laptops from work. Kids have their own PCs. Plus, there's the family computer. At one time you could have 3 or more of these machines going at once. One system that could prove to be beneficial is a home network. These Local Area Networks (LAN) link up all of your electronic devices. This way you can share files, programs and send messages with no hassle. It's high tech family togetherness.
A long with saving time, LANs can also save you some bucks. Linking up all the computers can save you the cost of buying multi peripherals like CD burners, printers and scanners. Plus, the same savings is translated when surfing the net. With a LAN network you would only need to pay for one internet connection. Plus, another household benefit is parents can monitor their kids browsing habits.
If your computer does not have an integrated wireless adapter you will need a networking card to connect to your access point or router. These cards usually come in the form of PCMCIA cards or USB adapters.
The PCMCIA cards resemble credit cards, and are often referred to as such. The USB network devices look more like a small box than a card. Since a desktop would not have a PCMCIA slot, the USB device would be commonly used instead.
It is rare for laptops to not have integrated wireless adapters today. Five years ago networking cards were sold a lot more than they are now. Even the majority of desktops now have integrated wireless devices.
If you do find yourself using a machine without integrated wireless, it is best to match the brand of your networking card with that of your router. While it is not required, it will be less likely to run into connection issues than another brand might. Many adaptors come with required software that must be installed before use, so make sure all your network drivers are updated as well.
There are several things that can interfere with your wireless network at home. A few easy steps to avoid these will go a long way. Then you can enjoy a secure and efficient computer network.
Radio signals from a number of devices like microwaves and cordless phones can often interfere with your wireless connection. These radio signals span a series of channels, with most devices in the United States being set at a default channel 6. If you encounter interference with your network, try to switch to a different channel with less traffic.
Placement of your router is also very important for your network strength. It is best to place the router in a central location in your home and avoid physical barriers between the computer and access point whenever possible. Even a plaster wall can diminish your wireless signal somewhat. Try a couple different locations to see where you will get the best signal strength in your home.
The closer your computer is to the wireless access point the stronger your signal should be. If your router's range is not to your liking you can buy a stronger one or a booster that will send the current signal further, extending your network.
When spending money on anything related to computers, you want to get the best product for the best price the first time around. Many people encounter computer problems after unknowingly buying products that are not ideal for them.
If you want the best speed and performance for your home network, try a router like the D-LINK 655 Xtreme Wireless Router. This router is 802.11n compliant, and 14 times faster with 6 times the range of 802.11g devices. The D-LINK 655 also separates wired and wireless traffic into multiple data streams, unlike some routers that will bundle everything into one stream. The device can then place streams into categories based on their sensitivity to delays or annoying interruptions. This means that streaming video online will not lag because someone else on your network is checking their e-mail or seeing who got voted off "Survivor." The router itself is pretty sleek and stylish, too.
There are cheaper models that will perform well, but if you have three or more computers on your network and do any online video streaming, definitely consider this bad boy. It is affordable, but more importantly, it gets the job done.
A wireless network is like the human body. If one part of the body is injured it affects how the rest of the body functions. Likewise, if one computer is attacked, so are the others. Whether using a switch or router, one machine infected with a virus can infect any other of the other connected systems. This is why it is imperative to take the proper safety precautions when setting up your network.
Many routers will come with a built-in firewall. This is a good start, but more is needed for computer security. Make sure that all the machines involved are protected with up-to-date anti-virus software. There are tons of programs out there choose from. Some of the most well-known are Norton Anti-Virus and McAfee VirusScan. Whichever one you choose, anti-virus software will have updates all the time that are crucial to maintaining the security of your network, so make sure to check for such updates regularly. Microsoft Windows XP and Vista also come with their own firewalls.
Feel more secure now? Well hold on. There is one more thing. In this world of rapid-fire pop-up windows that can be a real drag on your Internet surfing experience, proper spyware software is essential. Spyware clutters your system up with a lot of unwanted cookies and trackers and causes more pop-ups than a children's picture book. There are a lot of programs out there geared toward this very issue that will stop your browsing experience from becoming a nightmare where they pop up faster than you can knock them down.
A common point of confusion when setting up a home network is the difference between a router and a switch. A switch connects computers on the same network, though it does not provide Internet access. A switch will allow multiple computers to share an Internet connection through one machine. However, if that main computer crashes, all other systems on the computer network will also lose their connection. This means that the main computer must be functioning at all times for the others to maintain their connection. As more computers are added to the network, performance will decline because the main computer is handling the traffic load for all the others. Then you are stuck with a network of slow computers.
The wireless router will connect all computers and devices on the same network, but will also provide Internet access independent of the other machines. The machines can share Internet access, but remain independent of one another, without the burden of having to purchase more than one IP address from your provider. One computer crashing will not disrupt the connections of the others.
Small at home businesses never really stay at home. You're either running to meetings. Running to work with vendors. The list goes on and on. For this reason wireless networks might be the way to go. Now, most major public areas offer WiFi for people. This wireless network allows people to log on to their own system at places like the airport, a restaurant, or even a hotel lobby. Places that could double as your boardroom away from home.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|