Create Home Network
If you have more than one computer
in your household, you should consider creating a network. It will enable
multiple computers to be connected, allowing for easy sharing of essential
files, printers and a single Internet connection. The cost of networking
can be surprisingly affordable, and creating a network has become easy
and user friendly even for the computer novice. In this feature, we'll
give you some basic pointers for creating your home network.
Your Network Options
There are several ways that you can network your computers, or create
a local area network (LAN). When deciding how to network your computers,
choosing your networking method is the first step. When deciding on your
method, you'll want to consider factors such as the cost of networking
hardware, the data transmission speed, the logistics within your home
environment and the maintenance costs.
- Telephone line networking enables you to network your computers
and peripherals through your home telephone lines. You can buy a program
that will allow regular use of your telephone, even while computers
are connected, though it will not work if you're actually surfing the
Internet. The downside of networking requires logistics such as: How
are you going to run telephone wire through multiple areas of your home?
There are also bandwidth difficulties as most telephone line-based LANs
operate at 800 Kbps.
- Wireless local area networks are becoming very popular. A plus
to taking your network wireless is that you can be connected to your
network and the Internet whether you are actually seated behind the
desk of your home office or out by the pool. Wireless LANs work on the
same premise as portable telephones. Wireless networking technology
can offer you a trouble-free connection at distances of several hundred
feet. An additional benefit is that many hotels and airports are offering
wireless networking capabilities to their clients and guests. This adds
value to the initial investment in wireless cards and equipment since
you could be connected to your network even when on the road. As the
number of wireless roamers grows, so will the coverage areas. When purchasing
a wireless networking kit, make sure the speed is up to standard. The
latest standard is 11 Mbps, but the technology is quickly changing.
Be sure to ask your vendor before purchasing a kit.
- Ethernet networks allow the transmission of data at 10 Mbps.
The wiring for Ethernet can be bulky with limited mobility. Although
many new constructions are wiring buildings and homes for Ethernet sockets,
to have an already existing home re-wired is generally cost prohibitive.
To get your Ethernet up and running, you need to purchase an Ethernet
hub, Ethernet cables and a NIC or PCI card that will facilitate the
transmission of data and the connectivity of your network. An Ethernet
or computer professional can recommend specific components. When purchasing
equipment, shop around for a kit that has user-friendly installation
and a set-up program that will guide you through it step-by-step.
- AC Power Line Network enables you to network your computers
through existing electrical sockets. It is very easy to network your
computers via AC power lines; you purchase adapters that will plug directly
into your electrical sockets and then into your computers and peripherals.
However, there are several major drawbacks to AC networks. Transmission
is slow--about 100 Kbps. You must also be careful when using large appliances
in addition to your computers, as fuses can blow during data transmission.
AC power line networks are likely to be used by appliances of the future
"smart home," which will network home appliances--not for graphic, sound,
and text intensive file sharing.
Note: If you need to network a mixed environment of PC and Macintosh
computers, you can purchase equipment to link the two types of computers.
Consult your networking vendor for recommendations.
Set Up Tips
If you've decided, as many people do, to set up your LAN yourself, you'll
need to read all component directions and prepare (e.g. with necessary
tools nearby) before attempting to install components. If
you follow instructions step-by-step, you could set up your network in
just about an hour. Network set-up instructions vary widely according
to the type of network you're installing and the particular components
you've purchased. Regardless of what type of network you install, keep
in mind the following tips:
- Write down your network configurations. You may need them when
configuring another computer on the network, or in the event that a
networked computer crashes, setting it up again will be a snap.
- Test computer configurations. Network set-up wizards can help
you through this step.
- Set up file-sharing and printer-sharing options on each computer
so that your computers know its OK to share files and printers with
other computers on your network. However, to network safely through
Microsoft Networking, you may also have to re-configure your NetBIOS
configuration through NetBeui. The NetBIOS re-configuration will ensure
that hackers cannot access your computer files via the Internet. While
configuring NetBIOS is not complicated, there are a number of steps
involved. There are a number of online tutorials to help you understand
how to secure NetBIOS step-by-step.
- Back up regularly. A network means that all your computers
can back-up to the same device, whether it's a CD-RW, tape or cartridge
drive (e.g. Iomega Zip drive). Remember to schedule back-ups for computers
often, so that you can recover your computers' valuable data after a
crash or virus attack.
Securing Your Network
Computers that are networked and access the Internet via broadband connections
are at greater risk for hack attacks and other malicious online activity.
- Steal information such as credit card numbers, passwords and email
- Steal, or piggyback, your bandwidth causing you degraded Internet
- Introduce malicious computer programs, such as BO2K, or Active X and
Java controls that enable hackers to control your computer or track
your computer activities--without your knowledge.
It is very important to be vigilant about security on your home network,
especially since it can take months to discover that someone has broken
into your network. When it comes to computer crime and fraud, prevention
is the best course of action.
Security solutions that can help you to better protect your home network
- Norton Internet Security, which offers
several features designed to make surfing online safe for you and your
family, including Norton Personal Firewall. This home firewall
program controls incoming and outgoing Internet connections and will
alert you to any intrusion attempts. It also allows you to block potentially
malicious ActiveX and Java controls from unfamiliar sites. Norton
Privacy Control ensures that credit card and other confidential
information is not sent via an insecure Internet connection. It also
protects your email address and other personal information from being
sent via cookies to Web sites. In the Norton Internet Security Family
edition, you'll also get Parental Control, which enables you
to designate which applications (e.g. chat software) and which content
children may access while online.
- Norton AntiVirus, which will keep
your networked computers protected from the latest computer viruses,
worms, Trojan Horses and other malicious code. Since new viruses are
always emerging it is important to frequently download updates to virus
definitions through Symantec's LiveUpdate site.
A home network has many benefits: You can share printers and ISP connections
among multiple computers, save time copying files between computers, and
play computer games via the network. It is becoming a viable option for
many multi-computer families. To prevent installation headaches, be sure
to do sufficient research before attempting to network your computers.
Keep in mind that maintenance, including regular security upgrades, is
critical to the long-term success of your home network.
Norton Internet Security Product Page
Norton AntiVirus Product Page
Return to Symantec's Home Computing