Home Networking Bible

Home Networking Bible

by Sue Plumley
Is a home network for you? This comprehensive guide covers everything from deciding what type of network meets your needs to setting up the hardware and software, connecting different operating systems, installing the necessary applications, managing the network, and even adding home entertainment devices. Fully updated with new material on all the latest systems and


Is a home network for you? This comprehensive guide covers everything from deciding what type of network meets your needs to setting up the hardware and software, connecting different operating systems, installing the necessary applications, managing the network, and even adding home entertainment devices. Fully updated with new material on all the latest systems and methods, it's just what you need to set up your network and keep it running safely and successfully.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Home networks are becoming increasingly popular (see also Computer Media, LJ 10/1/02) as the technology becomes more affordable and easier to set up and as households begin accumulating multiple PCs and other devices. For new users, PC Magazine presents a fairly nonthreatening guide to installing and configuring a new wired or wireless home network (although some sections are a little too background-heavy for absolute beginners). Screen shots, diagrams, and images help clarify concepts, while the discussion of how and why to network various devices illustrates the advantages of connection; appendixes covering multiple network layouts and troubleshooting are particularly helpful. Recommended for all libraries. For beginning to intermediate users, Bible is nicely thorough, yet its very comprehensiveness may overwhelm new networkers. Step-by-step instructions and straightforward prose, explanatory figures and screen shots, clear tips, and appendixes on troubleshooting and telecommuting highly recommend this guide to anyone setting up a home network. Particularly appropriate for larger public libraries serving telecommuters, home businesses, and others needing more heavy-duty networking advice. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date:
Bible Series
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7.39(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.81(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Home Networking Bible

By Sue Plumley

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-4416-0

Chapter One

Quick Start-Sharing on a Network

Where are you in planning and installing your network? Do you already have computers that you want to connect? Do you have one printer that everyone in the house would like to share? Is having only one Internet connection a problem? You can share computers, printers, Internet connections, and more by installing a network in your home.

Do you need help choosing and buying the necessary networking equipment? Perhaps the equipment is already installed, but you're unfamiliar with networking with Windows 98 or Windows XP. You might have your network up and running but want to add an intranet and e-mail technologies. You find instructions for each of these tasks, in addition to hundreds more, in Home Networking Bible.

Home Networking Bible, 2nd Edition, covers new information on some of the technologies introduced in the first edition, such as wireless networking breakthroughs, Wireless-g protocol, power line networking enhancements, universal serial bus (USB) hubs and adapters, and the future of networking. In this second edition, you'll also find greater detail on how to lay cabling, place wireless access points, configure computers (include Linux and Macs), share Internet connections, and more.

Chapter 1 presents an overview of the steps you need to plan your network. This chapter gives you an idea of the decisions and assessments ahead of you. You'll need to consider what you already have, what equipment and hardware you want to share among your family or your small-business network, and what type of network benefits your situation. This chapter also presents a roadmap that helps you target the area in the book that will help you the most.

Overview of the Process

When you decide to connect your home computers to form a network, you have to ask yourself many questions.

* What type of network will you use?

* What operating systems do you have?

* Which operating systems do you want to add?

* How much money do you want to spend?

* What type of hardware and software is best for what you want to do?

The list goes on and on. Home Networking Bible can help you make these decisions and more.

Home Networking Bible presents information, definitions, possibilities, and advice about setting up and running your home network. You may want to set up a quick and inexpensive network to enable file sharing between your desktop and laptop computers. You may want to build a more complex network that includes a server, six workstations, multiple printers, and other shared resources. In either case, you'll find the information you need in this book.

As you read Home Networking Bible, you'll run across topics such as cabling, installing networking hardware and software, and adding applications to your system. You'll learn about choosing cabling, network cards, and other equipment. You'll even find out how to share your Internet account with everyone else on the network.

You probably have the beginnings of a network already: computers, a printer or two, and perhaps other resources. In addition, one of the most important reasons to have a network is to share resources, such as hard drive space, a printer, a CD-RW, and so on. Taking an inventory of your current equipment can help you make wise choices about what to purchase and what to share on your new network.

An important decision you must make before you begin putting together your network is whether to build a network using a server. There are advantages and disadvantages of both types of networking. Just so you'll understand what you're getting yourself into, the following sections present abbreviated steps for setting up a network. The order of these steps generally reflects the order of the material as organized by chapters in this book. You can, of course, approach the text in a different order to better suit your network needs.

Taking inventory

Your first step to planning a network is to take inventory of the equipment and software already in your home. You want to make use of all available resources. Computers, printers, a scanner or camera-any and all of these may be put to use in your network.

Perhaps, for example, you use your computer to keep your checkbook and to surf the Internet. Your son also has a computer he uses for homework and games. Your spouse uses a notebook computer primarily for work and must often bring it home to complete daily work. Any of these computers, with minor alterations, can probably work on a network. After networking the computers, everyone can print to one printer, check on the homework, surf the Internet, and more.


You also want to be reasonable in your expectations of these resources. If one of your computers is old and operates slowly, placing it on a network isn't going to make the computer better. It might even slow the network down. You can always check to see if you can upgrade a computer's memory, processor speed, or operating system; but compare the cost of an upgrade against the cost of a new computer before making any decisions.

Begin your inventory with a list of your computers. For each computer, write down the following. You can always check your original invoice for the computer to find out the information for each item.

* Processor and memory

* Hard drive space

* Operating system (Windows 98, Windows XP, Mac OS 9, Linux, and so on) * Attached hardware (CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD, Zip drive, network card, modem, and such)

* External hardware and peripherals (camera, printer, scanner, and so on)

After your inventory, consider whether you need to replace or upgrade any of your hardware. If, for example, a computer has an operating system below Windows 95, such as DOS or Windows 3.11, consider purchasing a new computer. If the computer uses Windows 95, find out what it takes to upgrade the computer or replace it. Once you have your computers and other hardware in order, you're ready to consider the network.

Looking at resources to share

You can share printers, CD and DVD drives, flash cards, modems, some applications, and more on a network. You can also add resources as you build your network. Using a network to share resources offers many advantages and a few disadvantages that you'll want to consider before you build your network together.

Sharing a printer, for example, means you need only one printer for three or four computers. However, if everyone prints often, they may have to stand around waiting for their print jobs. Sharing a hard drive with other family members means all of those free gigabytes of space may fill more quickly than originally planned, but everyone has backups of their data.

With your inventory in hand, discuss with your family the pros and cons of sharing one printer, one large hard drive, one modem, or any of the other available resources. Then, consider which resources you want to share and which resources may need to be purchased. As previously mentioned, you can add resources as you build your network and as you see a need for them.

Listing steps for a workgroup network

A workgroup or peer-to-peer network is one in which all computers on the network can pool their resources together. Each individual computer usually retains its control over files, folders, and applications; however, every computer on the network can use another's printer, scanner, CD drive, and so on. Workgroup networks contain a small number of computers. Workgroups can be made up of 2, 5, or even 10 computers. It is important to note that the more computers in the workgroup, the slower the network may run.


Peer-to-peer is the actual name for a network in which all users share all resources, as previously described. Microsoft Windows calls peer-to-peer workgroup, so if you're used to Windows, you'll recognize that term. Peer-to-peer and workgroup mean the same thing. In this book, I mostly use the term workgroup, however.

If you choose to use a workgroup network, you should perform the following steps. Many steps are optional, depending on your networking choices, whether or not you want Internet access, and so on.


For more information about workgroup networks, see Chapter 3. For definitions of terms, see the Glossary toward the end of this book.

1. Learn the advantages and disadvantages of networking and decide exactly what it is that you want from your network.

2. Consider some guidelines about the network that you will present to your family.

3. Define your networking goals: budget, computer placement, computer contents, applications issues, and so on.

4. Decide what speed the network will be, considering your family needs and equipment limitations.

5. Choose the network topology and technology.

6. Choose cabling: traditional, wireless, power, or phone lines.

7. Buy the networking hardware. Depending on the choices you make, you could purchase a kit containing everything you need, or you may purchase individual pieces of hardware and cabling.

8. Install network cards.

9. Install networking hardware: cabling, hubs, or other hardware as needed.

10. Configure the networking software-protocol, clients, services, and adapters-on each computer.

11. Attach any non-Windows computer or portables to the network.

12. Set shares in each computer. Test the shares.

13. Access the network, test IDs, passwords, and so on.

14. Learn to find other computers on the network.

15. Set up printers and test connections.

16. Set up Internet access, if you want.

17. Set up e-mail, if you want.

18. Create an intranet, if you want.

19. Install and configure applications.

20. Work with files and folders.

21. Understand how to manage the network.

22. Add other elements to the network, such as multimedia equipment or chat applications.

Listing steps to add a server

Client/server networking is a setup in which files, applications, and resources are centralized on one high-speed, powerful computer called a server. Other computers, called clients, then attach to the server and use the resources as they need them. Client/server networks are faster than workgroup networks, and a server supports more clients, or users, than a workgroup network. For example, a client/server network may have from 10 to 2,000 users attached to a server.

If you choose to add a server to your network, you need to perform some additional steps. For more information about adding a server to your network, see Chapter 4. In brief, you'll need to do the following, in addition to the preceding set of steps:

1. Determine the type of network operating system you want to use.

2. Purchase a server and configure the server's operating system by setting up user accounts and permissions, setting up rights on files and folders, setting up a print server, installing and configuring applications, setting up permissions, and so on. See Chapter 12 for information about securing your computer and files.

3. Configure the clients to see and use the server, and perhaps create login scripts and other security measures.

4. Check all client/server connections.

Small Business Tip

If you're creating your network for a small business, either in your home or in an office, you may want to use client/server networking instead of workgroup. There are certain advantages to the client/server configuration in a business network. In a client/server environment, the network is easy to expand to include more client computers, network operations in a larger group are faster, you can provide more services to everyone on the network, and security is tighter.

Finding the Help You Need

You may already be familiar with networking types. You may already have a network set up in your home. Perhaps you purchased Home Networking Bible to learn more about sharing Internet access or setting up printer sharing. You may want more information on managing your network or want to learn about Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).

If you're in one of the stages of building your network and just want some assistance getting through that stage, this section can help. Following are some common networking scenarios and suggestions as to which chapter to read to help you solve your networking problems.

Planning your network

As you might know, you go through several stages to plan a network. You must decide what type of network you want, which speed to use, what kind of cabling and hardware is best for your situation, and so on. You'll find all of the information you need to plan your network in Home Networking Bible. Consider the following scenarios.

Budget considerations

You want a home network, but your budget is limited. You have only about $150 to spend on all of the equipment you need to connect two computers. You want to know if you really have to spend more money than this for such a simple task.

Now, you can connect two computers for as little as $20. Additionally, you can use any number of kits to connect two computers now, and add computers later when you're ready. For information about various kits and networking solutions, see Chapter 8.

In contrast, say you're building a home and you have no limit to the amount of money you spend on your network. In fact, you want to cable the home to perform more than just computer networking: You want to include climate and environment controls, security lights and cameras, and video and stereo equipment on your network.

Chapter 26 explains the possibilities of wiring a "smart" home, or SmartHome, and also suggests manufacturers of systems and estimated costs.

Server issues

You've heard that the kid next door has a server in his basement, so you want a server too. However, you don't want to use a server like the one at work or in larger offices, which uses the NetWare or NT Server operating system. You want something that's simple to operate and maintain and easy for everyone to access for storing their files, printing, and so on. What do you do? Consider using a powerful computer with Windows XP as the operating system. For information about setting up a Windows server like this, see Chapter 4.

You want to back up all of your data to another computer, but you wonder if it has to be a server computer. Must a tape drive or Zip drive be connected to a server? Do you have to use a server's software to back up files? You can back up files to any other computer on the network.


Excerpted from Home Networking Bible by Sue Plumley Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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