setting up a home network

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Setup a Home Computer Network | Basic Edition

Posted by on 24 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: home network setup, network setup, setting up a home network

Computer Repair Vancouver has been alive and well for over two months now, and during this time we have managed to cover a number of common computer repair questions. We have touched on everything from virus removal to password repair. However, one topic that we have not discussed as of yet is how to set up a home network. We now realize, with the ubiquity of the Internet and multiple computer families, that this is a very important issue indeed. Our discussion today will focus on how to set up a basic home computer network, a system capable of connecting a small group (2 – 4) of computers to each other as well as the Internet. Next time, we will focus on how to set up a slightly more advanced network, one which can bypass the limitations of the setup discussed today.

Now, before we begin, we would like to draw your attention to the image located just below this text. This is, abstractly, what your network will look like once you have finished. We advise you to consult this image often as it can be a great help in visualizing the steps taken. Oh, and just so you don’t have to ask, “PC” means “personal computer”.

Computer Repair Vancouver - Basic Network Setup

Computer Repair Vancouver Guide: Setting up a Basic Home Network

Although many computer users like to jump right into the fray, we prefer to start by collecting all of the required components / parts. This way we don’t get half way through the job, only to find out that we need to head on down to the local computer repair shop to purchase this, that, or the other.

So, what do you need in order to set up your home network? Here is a list:

A) 1 ADSL modem or 1 Cable modem (If you are using the telephone line to access the Internet then you will need an ADSL modem. If you are using the TV line to access the Internet then you will need a Cable modem. In either case, you should have been given one of these guys by your Internet Service Provider (ISP); if you were not, phone your ISP and see where you can obtain one.).

B) 1 telephone wire or 1 TV wire (If you are using an ADSL modem then it should have come with a telephone wire. If you are using a Cable modem then it should have come with a TV wire. If you don’t have either, head on down to your local computer shop and explain your situation).

C) 1 router (You will need to purchase one of these guys. Computer Repair Vancouver recommends that you head to a big name electronics shop where you can generally purchase one for between $50 and $100. The only really important consideration is whether or not you need to access your home network wirelessly. Here is a simple rule: if you only use desktop computers then you should purchase a normal router; if you use any laptops then you should purchase a wireless router.).

D) A handful of “normal” Ethernet cords (You will need to purchase a bunch of “normal”, not “crossover”, cords from an electronics or computing store, if you don’t already have any. They come in a range of lengths, so take into consideration the distance between the router and the PCs you will be connecting. If you are totally unsure then use a few pieces of string when going through our tutorial and buy the cords at a later stage, once the necessary lengths have been determined).

Now that you have all of the appropriate parts, it is time to get down to business and begin setting up your home network. We here at Computer Repair Vancouver recommend that you follow our instructions verbatim in order to simplify the process. Nonetheless, if you are an expert or guru then feel free to approach the task in whatever way you deem best.

A) Take your ADSL modem or Cable modem and plug its power cord into an electrical outlet; however, make sure that the power switch on the back of it is set to “off”.

B) If you are using an ADSL modem then connect your telephone wire from a live telephone jack into the “line” slot on the back of the ADSL modem. Similarly, if you are using a Cable modem then connect your TV wire from a live TV jack into the “line” slot on the back of your Cable modem. It is important to remember that, depending on the model of ADSL modem or Cable modem, the “line” slot may be called something slightly different. In any case, look for a slot which seems to fit the appropriate wire. Additionally, with regards to placement, try to use a telephone jack or TV jack in the same room where you would like to have the router placed; this will minimize the number of long cords traversing your house.

C) Take your router and plug its power cord into an electrical outlet; however, make sure that the power switch on the back of it is set to “off”.

D) Connect an Ethernet cord from the WAN slot on the router to the LAN slot on the ADSL modem or Cable modem.

E) [Repeat for each computer on your network] Connect an Ethernet cord from your PCs Ethernet slot to any of the numbered slots (1, 2, 3, 4 …) on your router.

It is important to note that this can be done in one of two ways: directly (which Computer Repair Vancouver loves since it is simple) or indirectly (which we don’t love since it is more complicated). If your PC and router are physically close together then you will connect them directly using a single Ethernet cord. If, however, your PC and router are quite far apart then you will need to connect them indirectly. The general principle is as follows. An Ethernet cord will go from your PC to an Ethernet wall jack located in the same room. Behind the scenes, likely behind the drywall, an Ethernet cord will connect this wall jack to a wall jack in the room where the router will reside. Finally, an Ethernet cord will connect this second wall jack to the router. Take a look at the diagram above if you are having a hard time visualizing the concept.

It is also important to note that if your router is wireless and if your PC has wireless capabilities then you can skip this step entirely. The whole point of a wireless network is that you don’t need to string Ethernet cords throughout your house.

F) Turn the power switch on your ADSL modem or Cable modem to “on”.

G) Turn the power switch on your router to “on”.

H) Restart each PC on the network.

I) Test your home network by logging onto each PC and seeing if you can access the Internet. If you can then that computer has successfully been added to the network. If you can’t then take a look below at the possible troubles you could be running into.

Troubleshooting Tips

If, for some reason, your machines are unable to access the Internet then something is wrong. What follows is a short list of common solutions to home network problems.

  • One of the most common reasons why a home network doesn’t work is because of the Internet Service Provider’s rules, rather than the computer user’s setup. See, most ISP’s require certain information about your router before they will let it communicate with their system. Consequently, your network may be set up correctly; however, when your router attempts to talk to the outside world it gets no response. As a result, it appears as if your network simply isn’t functioning at all. Trust us; this is a very common problem, and this is why Computer Repair Vancouver suggests that one of the first steps you should take to rectify a network issue is to phone up your Internet Service Provider. Let them know that you recently set up your network; yet, it doesn’t appear to be talking to their system.
  • A somewhat common problem is that all of your equipment simply hasn’t synched together. Once again, your network may be set up correctly, but the technological components simply aren’t talking with each other. In order to rectify this problem it is generally best to reset all of the equipment: first the ADSL modem or Cable modem, second the router, and third your computers.
  • Finally, sometimes one of your components is defective. Go to each component (modem, router, and computers) and make sure it is plugged into a live electrical socket. With regards to the modems and router, make sure there are flashing/blinking lights on the front. With regards to your PC, look at its Ethernet slot (where you connected the Ethernet cord) and make sure there is a light blinking on and off.

That’s about it! See, it’s not that difficult to set up a home network, is it? We admit that it can be quite confusing at the start; however, trust us; it only gets easier as time goes on. The first setup will be the most difficult. As you accrue knowledge, however, you will begin to recognize the constituent parts and how they interact with one another. Hopefully, this guide has been both useful and informative. If you are interested in setting up a slightly more complicated network (one that contains two routers – possibly because you have many computers in your house) then come back to Computer Repair Vancouver in the next week or two as this will be our next point of discussion.