Hardware Selection: Important Information
You want to make sure that you already have some type of broadband connection such as Road Runner® or DSL already in place. Also, your computers will need to have wireless capabilities having either an internal/external wireless card or a USB network adapter installed. The newer computers are the more likely they already have wireless capabilities built-in. But if your computer does need wireless capabilities, then you will want to get a USB network adapter for a desktop and a PCMIA (or PC-card) network card. The next step in designing your network is to select a wireless router which will admit an internet signal to multiple connections in your home. There are many different types of wireless frequencies, the most common are 802.11b and 802.11g. 802.11g is a faster connection than 802.11b so you will probably want to choose this type of wireless router. But, if you have a 192.168.1.20 wireless card in any of your computers, it will be compatible with an 802.11g router. It does help to buy the same manufacturer’s products for the network adapters and also the router, although mixing and matching manufacturers’ products seem to be work fine.
Choosing a Router
The two most popular manufactures, respectively, are Linksys® and Belkin®. Other well-known manufacturers are D-Link® and NetGear®. Linksys® tends to be a little more expensive than Belkin®, but the difference in performance is near impossible to notice. I personally recommend Belkin® over Linksys® not only because of the price but the firmware (the software that is loaded on the router) is much easier to use and it has several more features than Linksys®.
All routers now usually enable sometime of firewall, which is a basic safeguard that helps to promote internet security by blocking connections people are attempting to make to your network. And wireless routers have many different ways of securing your network so that you can have a secure environment. The instruction manuals that come with the routers usually have a good detail of information telling about the certain features each router has installed. All wireless routers also have some hardwire ports that can be used. Their price can range significantly $30 over $100. You can usually find a good deal on eBay®. Many factors help to drive the price up to such as its security features, the number of ports, the number of wireless connections allowed, etc. Most wireless routers have a certain speed, in gig hertz (GHz), so the higher the gig hertz the faster your wireless connection will be.
To begin the network installation, unplug the power cord of the cable modem and set the router next to the cable modem, leave it powered off also.
If Going to Have any Hard-Line Connections
Then, take a look at the length from the router to the computer(s) that you wish to connect via an Ethernet cord. You want to have a measurement of the length from the router to the computer(s) and then use this/these measurement(s) to determine the length of the Ethernet cords you will have to purchase. Once the Ethernet cords have been purchased, make sure the computers have been powered off and then place the Ethernet cords in the network port in the back of the desktop(s) or laptop(s) and then connect them to the ports in the back of the router. In the back of the router, there will be port numbers; for example, 1 to 4 for a 4 port router. Place the Ethernet cords in any of these open numbered ports. There will also be a port labeled WAN. Do not place the Ethernet cords that are going to be connected to the computers via a hard line connection in this port. This port, known as the Wide Area Network (Your ISP is considered the Wide Area Network), is used for the Ethernet cord connection from the modem to the router. This step will be performed later on.
Once you have connected the cables from the computer to the router, leave the router turned off. Then turn on the connected computers and let them start up normally into Windows®. This will allow the computers to recognize that there is a LAN connection that will soon be present (Local Area Network – which refers to your home network). You may get a message from Windows® saying the Local Area Connection has been unplugged; just disregard this message for now.
The Cables for Hard-Line Connection
The cables used for a hard-line connection are called Ethernet cables. They are very similar to telephone cables except telephone cables have 3 wires and Ethernet cables have 6 wires. An Ethernet cable must be used to connect the cable modem to the router. Most routers include an Ethernet cable in their packaging which you can use for this purpose. If a hard line connection is going to be used for a computer on your network, an Ethernet cable must be used to establish the connection. If you have an older computer, you may want to make sure you have a 10/100 LAN Network Card. This can be seen by
looking at the back of the computer. The following image gives a good idea of what the port looks like. The cable you see in the picture to the right is what an Ethernet cable looks like. Most computers post 2000 era have the network card built-in already. The cheapest place to get Ethernet cables is probably on eBay®. Most large retailer stores charge approximately $30.00 for a 50′ cable, which is pricey. Unless you are in a time constraint, shop around for the best price you can find for the length of cable that meets your needs.
Needed for All Connections (Wireless and Hard Line)
Now plug the router’s power cord into the wall. The router will not perform certain tests and diagnostics to see what exactly is connected to it. (For hard-line connections only) – The router will then recognize the connected computers. You can know this for certain if you look at the front of the router and lights
are blinking for activity and connectivity under the associated numbered ports for which the computer(s) is/are connected too. Next, make sure the modem is connected to the router via the WAN port in the back of the router. You can use the Ethernet cable that usually comes in the packaging with the router.
If completed, plug in the power for the modem. The modem will go through a few diagnostics tests; you will see blinking lights for Power, Send, Receive, and Online usually. It may take up to 2 or 3 minutes before the sequence is done. (For hard-line connections only) – After a minute or two, you will see a pop-up box on the computers that say Local Area Network connection established. This process has synchronized the router with the computers and also the router with the cable modem and ISP service. Once this is done, you will now need to configure the router’s setting.