How to Set Up a Home Network- Beginners Guide
Choosing a Wired or Wireless Network
Wired networks use Ethernet over UTP cable and tend to be faster than wireless networks, which is an important consideration if you are a gamer. The simple wired home network diagram below shows a minimum setup with a switch and broadband router.
Wired Network Advantages
Wired Network Dis-Advantages
Home Wireless Networks
Wireless Network Advantages
Wireless Network Dis-Advantages
Setting up a Home Network -Components and Structure
Today however most home and small home office networks will use a wireless network or mixed network, as most people use Smart phones, and tablets which don’t have Ethernet support.
The home network diagram below shows the structure of a typical small home network
For most home networks the Wireless Router or Hub which connects the network to the Internet will be the main component of the home or small home office network, and in many cases it will be the only component.
DSL Modem– converts digital signals into analogue signals that are suitable for sending over a telephone line. It is usually built into the Internet/broadband router and is not normally purchased as a separate component.
DSL/Broadband Filter– Used to filter out DSL signals from telephone signals so that you can access the internet and use the telephone simultaneously. Often included as part of the connection socket.
Wireless Router Location
The easiest way of testing you signal strength in various locations is to use the inSSIDer Wi-Fi checker which is an App that you can install on your Android Tablet or phone.
The general idea is to place the Wireless router in its preferred location and then move around the house with the inSSIDer Wi-Fi checker, and check the signal strength, and then adjust the location if necessary.
Extending Your Home Network
Home Router Setup
The two important one are the SSID used to access the Router and the router admin password as the default username/passwords are well known, and published on the Internet.
Connecting Wi-Fi Devices
However most modern Wi-Fi routers/hubs support a feature called WPS ( Wi-fi protected setup). Which usually involves pressing a button on the wi_fi router and a corresponding WPS connection button on the Device.
Home Network IP Addresses
IP address provided by the DHCP server are known as dynamic addresses, as they can change. You can also assign addresses manually, and these are known as static addresses.
When you connect to the Internet your device will use an external IP address. This address is the IP address of the router/hub. See Internal vs external IP addresses for a more detailed explanation.
Finding Your DNS, IP, MAC Addresses and Router IP Addess
Your home router is your gateway to the Internet. When viewing your configuration some devices refer to it as the default router whereas other use the term default gateway.
Splitting Your Home Network
For security reasons you may find the need to split your home network. This is especially true in small business networks like restaurants etc were customers are also given access to the network.
Firewall Configuration on Home Networks
A Firewall functions like a router, and generally what you use on small networks is firewall/NAT router combination in which a single device acts as a NAT router and firewall.
It effectively acts like a one way digital gate blocking access to your network from devices on the Internet, but at the same time allowing devices on your network to connect to devices on the Internet. (schematic diagram below)
Generally there is no configuration required as the default behaviour is only to allow connections from the local network to the Internet, and not from the Internet to the home network.
How can you test network stability?
Checking network connectivity
Network connectivity should never be lost; period. Apart from being up, it should also be fast and not prone to dropping packets. This can be done using three methods:
- There are tools out there that help administrators keep track of their networks. One such tool is the Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL). This is an all-in-one network monitoring suite of programs that keep a constant eye on the connectivity between a host network and a test server like Google, for example, which aren’t expected to be down – ever.
- If you have a grasp of even the basics of networking, you can conduct the test yourself using free tools like Ping and Tracert. If you don’t, keep on reading and we will show you how it is done.
- Finally, connectivity and health testing can be done using third-party websites like Internet Health Test or Ping Can Be Useful. While these are the easiest way to go, they really don’t give in-depth information about network connectivity issues – at least not for free.
Monitoring network data
Only the right type of data should be transported on a network and not, for example, spam data from an attacker on the outside. In another scenario, servers shouldn’t be backed up during peak processing hours when they could hog the bandwidth.
Administrators should, therefore, keep track of what data packet is passing through their networks. They can use numerous deep packet inspection and network analysis tools found on the market which can be used to keep an eye on traffic and filter it as required.
Maintaining packet speeds across the connection
There shouldn’t be any attrition or loss of data speeds. Packets shouldn’t be dropped because the network is too congested, an access point is not up or performing as well as it should be, or because the specific packets have been blocked by mistake.
Administrators should have a plan as to how much bandwidth is allocated to every aspect of your data transportation – give more to VoIP and less to email traffic, for example, so audio communication doesn’t lag.
Ensuring network protection
Tools for Network Security and Stability
Finally, administrators know that their networks will only be stable as long as people who aren’t supposed to be on them are kept away. If outsiders keep meddling with data, configurations, and authorizations they will soon be able to hijack the network. They can then use it as a springboard for further attacks, hack the devices connected on it, or simply crash it.