Basic Home Wireless Network Overview

Filed under:Wireless and printing    

Your home wireless network can be very simple and for most people these networks are. Fundamentally there is a router to serve as a gateway and an access point as well as one or more (potentially) mobile laptops. You only need a router and a card for any computers you want to use on it and many laptops come with a suitable build in card. You can add components and pieces to it. Some people put a great deal of time into securing it. However there are a great many home users that don’t secure their access point and do fine. Some routers also function as a print server which would allow you to use your printer without plugging in your printer. If there is a desktop it is usually not necessary to buy a card unless you have a reason to avoid cables.

Setting up the wireless network is actually very simple. You buy a router which probably should be connected directly to the DSL or cable modem. If you use basic dialup (you use a standard telephone line) for internet access you can share an active internet connection with Microsoft internet sharing which comes standard with any version of Microsoft Windows. Macintosh should have something similar. You also need to have an 802.11 WiFi card for your laptop(s) and any desktops you want on the wireless portion. Home networks frequently include wired cabling as well as the microwave signals. It is encouraged to change the SSID, activate WPA (encryption), and stop advertising the SSID which means that all of the computers not cabled will need to have the SSID set manually. All of this should be in the simple setup instructions that came with the hardware. The SSID is basically the network name and is intended to function as a password. Failure to take these basic precautions are quite common but considered a security risk as it allows anybody within range to intercept the communications. A hacker usually can easily get your personal information, for example when e-mail clients are open they transmit all the information needed to connect to the e-mail over the unsecured wireless networks which they are using from the street. There are other things a hacker may be interested in as well on home networks, including other forms of identity theft.

Home wireless networks are very easy to setup and maintain. There is no official way it has to be setup, after all this is your house. The router and the cards are inexpensive and very easy to install. All wireless equipment is compatible so there isn’t any concern about what to buy, although D-link and LinkSys tend to get lower quality connections than other brands. There is an exception for antennas which needs to have the connector standard match the adapter. Networking in the interior of peoples homes are theirs to setup as they feel fit. This may include several people sharing one internet connection (and thus one bill) if they are within network range.

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