Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Home Network. For Dum Dums.

Home networking. Most of us depend on our cable/phone company to send us a little gizmo in the mail that we feel good about setting up a password on. But setting up a home network can be more satisfying that relying on WiFi alone from a two-rate modem/router/wireless access point combo you WAY overpay for on a monthly basis. With just a little knowledge, you can double your speed and enhance your entertainment and web surfing experience. All this without a tech degree from an IBM school.

Here are the basics.

First, you need a modem. That converts either your cable service or your phone service into internet and brings it into your home. That's the demarcation point -- or the point where its on you and not your internet service provider (ISP). But don't be afraid, you can do better than Comcast! In early 2014, for the home-owner, I would call this the best modem on the market:
If you buy an modem like this you will need to, sadly, call your ISP to get it activated by them. Once that happens, you can hook up a router. You may need to change the default IP of the router as they can be the same as the modem at times. Its easy though and usually in the same area you would set up your passwords. Just change the third set of numbers...for example, your modem will be so make your router No problem. If you want to understand what an IP is, look to YouTube. I recommend my favorite tech how-to channel later on.

Many modems have a built in router. A router translates information between different devices in your network. I recommend buying a one that is independent of your modem. Routers come in many "flavors." If you want Apple gear, they make some pretty nice routers -- even with built in back up capacity or with the ability to hook up external hard drives. A quick amazon search will give you some good suggestions.

Next, a switch. Wait, aren't there switch ports on the back of my router and why would I look into anything but wireless? Well, yes your router likely has a switch built into it (the Ethernet ports on the back), but you can EXPAND your capacity with additional switches that are fed from those ports. Why would you do that -- because you can get up to 1 gigabit of connection speed, per port, which you cannot get with wireless. Its true, some wireless is faster than wired, but not once multiple devices connect to it and certainly not within the home owner's budget. If you want to know how to run cable and hook up wall jacks throughout your home, I suggest you look to Eli the Computer Guy on YouTube for some wonderful tutorials on the subject. Not to mention that wired connections are more dependable than wireless. I put together a home network running wired connections to each room in my house and now enjoy tremendous streaming speeds between devices like my Mac and Apple TV. Watching a movie is now even simpler than popping in a DVD!