Setup a home network

Written by on Friday, September 5, 2008 21:03 - 0 Comments

Methods of creating a home network

There are two basic ways to connect two computers together to make a home network.  One is to use a direct connection between the two machines, and the other requires the use of a network gateway, or router.  If you are only creating a quick tempory connection, and won’t be using the network for anything except to copy files or share applications, a direct connection method would be suitable.  But if you want both computers to have equal, independent access to a third device, such as a printer that either machine can access at any time, or a cable modem, then it probably makes more sense to use a router.  Another, slower alternative is the use of a direct connect parallel or or serial cable, although severely limits functionality.

You cannot connect a USB cable directly between two computers.  A USB cable carries a voltage supply used to power many devices, and severe electrical problems are likely to affect one or both machines after such a connection is made, including destruction of the motherboard or the power supply.  There are direct connect cables made especially for this purpose, and such cables should always be used.  The most practical form of a home network is the use of a router, as will be explained shortly.

For a direct network connection, you’ll need special cables.  Crossover cable are available for both Ethernet and USB connections.  A straight wired Ethernet cable will not work, unless a hub is used as a translating device.  Basically, a cross over cable has reversed pairs of wires between the RJ45 jack on one end, and the jack on the other.   A network set up in this way cannot add a third device without one of the two machines taking on the role of network server, as well as an additional network port for each new device.  For any type of extended period home network, the best solution is most likely the use of a router.

By using a router, most of the pitfalls and complications of a direct network connection are eliminated.  The network is no longer limited to two connections, for starters, which allows the use of a printer or cable modem at any time, whether the other computer is turned on, or not.  The router also provides a shield between the home network and the internet, blocking many of the potentially malicious dangers that could be lurking.  Adding more computers to the network at a later time is much easier, as well.  Additionally, wireless routers are now very inexpensive, which would allow the use of mltiple computers and devices without having unsightly wires run throughout the home.

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