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Now you can share high-speed Internet access, voice, video, and data in your home or business using Linksys connectivity solutions and this one-stop guide. This authoritative resource shows you how to build a network easily and affordably step-by-step. Learn how to select hardware, set up both wired and wireless networks, secure your network with firewalls, use anti-virus software, and much more. You'll also...
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Now you can share high-speed Internet access, voice, video, and data in your home or business using Linksys connectivity solutions and this one-stop guide. This authoritative resource shows you how to build a network easily and affordably step-by-step. Learn how to select hardware, set up both wired and wireless networks, secure your network with firewalls, use anti-virus software, and much more. You'll also find helpful troubleshooting tips plus advice on getting technical support. Here's all the guidance you need to:
Kathy Ivens is the author or co-author of more than 40 computer books on a variety of topics including home networking. She is a senior contributing editor for Windows & .NET Magazine and is the author of QuickBooks 2002: The Official Guide, Windows 2000: The Complete Reference and many other bestselling computing resources. Larry Seltzer writes frequently for several computer and business publications, including Fortune Small Business, PC Magazine, and ZDNet, and consults on design and testing issues. He has been Technical Director in charge of product testing at PC Week and PC Magazine and has also worked in corporate and commercial software development. He is also the author of Admin 911: Windows 2000 Terminal Services.
Before you grab a screwdriver, drill a hole for cable, or open your computer to add networking components, you need a plan. When the ultimate plan is a small network in your home or in your place of business, you need to take a step back and make some decisions before you pick up your tools. (Maybe I should call that a preplan to a plan?) You have a lot of choices about the way you design and install your network, and you can’t do anything definitive until you understand them. In Part I, you’ll learn what a network is, how it works, and the pros and cons of the various hardware options. You’ll also learn how to install hardware networking components and how to add peripherals (printers, modems, DSL devices, and so on) to your network.
A network is nothing more than two or more computers that are connected so they can exchange data. The largest network in the world is the Internet, which comprises all the servers that provide services to Internet users. The smallest networks are found in millions of homes, where home users have connected two or more computers. In between those extremes are millions of corporate and small business networks comprising anywhere from two to hundreds of thousands of connected computers. What you may not realize is that all networks, regardless of their size, share common characteristics:
When you create a home network or a network for your business, you’ll be using the same approach as the network designers who create enormous corporate enterprises. As far as hardware and connection requirements, your network is no different than any other network in the world.While this may seem overwhelmingly complicated, you’ll be amazed at how simple and logical it is if you take it one step at a time.
You do have some decisions to make, regarding the type of connections you want to use between your computers and the way in which users will join the network. This chapter provides an overview of your choices, and all the other chapters in this book will help you implement those choices.
The server can also limit the rights and privileges of computers and users who log on to the network. Some users may be restricted from working with files in certain folders on network computers, or they may not be able to change settings on their own computers. These controls are imposed on a computer-by-computer or user-by-user basis, but to make it easier for administrators, computers and users are placed into groups. The restrictions applied to a group apply to each member of the group. Assigning rights and privileges on a group basis is easier than dealing with each computer and user one at a time.
Most client/server networks are also designed for server-based work. Servers are set up all over the network (and they must also log on and be authenticated). Most of these servers are assigned a specific task; consider the following, for instance:
In some large companies, a server may be reserved to host the company’s Web site (although many companies let Web hosting services run the company’s Web servers).
In addition to being able to access network servers, client computers in a Windows network can access other client computers, which is a peer-to-peer method (discussed in the next section). This permits users to exchange or share data files directly. However, each computer can be set up to maintain permissions that allow access only by certain users, or to deny access to all client computers.
In fact, users can opt to log on to their own computers, rather than the network, if they wish. They won’t be able to access any network resources, but this may still be the way to log on if a server is down or if the user wants to work on software applications that are installed on the local computer without saving the data to a network server.
The biggest advantage of a client/server network is the level of security you can achieve, but for small networks, that advantage is usually outweighed by the cost of buying a server to maintain those controls and the technical knowledge required to set up and maintain the authentication processes. Because small networks have fewer computers and users, the need to develop security controls on a user-by-user or computer-by-computer basis is less daunting.
You can apply security measures to resources, such as files and folders, on each computer on the network. In fact, if one user decides that his computer is totally private, he can refuse to share any files or folders on his computer. That doesn’t stop him from being able to access resources on another computer, though, if that other computer is sharing resources.
In addition, with peer-to-peer configuration, you don’t entirely lose the concept, or efficiency, of a server. For example, you can use any computer on the network as a print server without interfering with a user’s ability to work on that computer.
A print server is a computer that has a printer connected to it, and that printer is configured as a shared printer, meaning everyone on the network can use that printer. The user who works at the computer that is connected to the printer doesn’t have to share any other resources, such as files or folders, because shared resources are set up on a resource-by-resource basis.
You can also maintain data files for certain software applications on one computer, which essentially treats the computer as a server. For example, many accounting software applications work in this mode (an example is QuickBooks).
In some versions of Windows (Windows 2000 and Windows XP), you can impose security on the logon process, so that nobody can log on except an existing, recognized user who knows the password. In addition, each logged-on user can be restricted in their ability to make changes to the system’s configuration.
When you log on to a peer-to-peer network, you join a workgroup, which is a group of computers that are connected to each other.
You can name a computer when you install the operating system, and if you bought a computer from a manufacturer who installed the operating system for you, it may already have a name (something really creative, descriptive, and easy to remember like DEO77495FG077MR). Some people name their first computer Brown, because that’s the family name; then when they buy another computer, they name it Brown, and perhaps even when a third computer arrives, it too is named Brown. That’s neither unusual, nor harmful, until you decide to create a network with all three computers.
When you install your network using one of the Windows networking wizards (available in Windows Me and Windows XP) or by setting configuration options manually (Windows 98SE and Windows 2000), you can name (or rename) the computer and the workgroup during the network setup process.
It’s a good idea to name a computer for the room in which it resides, so there’s no chance of duplication and so that everyone understands where the computer is located. For example, Den, Kitchen, Basement, Attic, Garage, Marysroom, and so on, are good choices.
The workgroup name can be anything you want, and each computer on your network must have the same workgroup name (the Windows networking wizards usually suggest something like MSHome or evenWorkgroup, but you can substitute another name for your workgroup).
Computer and workgroup names cannot be longer than 15 characters, and the following characters are forbidden in the name:
/ \ * , . @ space
You can change the existing name of a computer (usually a task that’s performed because of duplicate computer names) in the following way:
If more than one person uses the computer, each user’s configuration preferences are loaded when that user logs on. For example, desktop icons, the listings on the Programs menu, the personal My Documents folder, and other components are all exactly the way the user wants them. This is called a user profile, and each user’s profile is stored on the computer.
For computers running Windows XP (and Windows 2000), individual logons also provide security measures that protect the computer, because you can configure the rights and privileges for each user. Users who have accounts configured for limited rights cannot perform certain functions; for instance, they may not be able to install software, and they cannot delete or modify system files. If your network is part of your business, limited accounts make a great deal of sense. Even in a home network, a limited account may prevent damage if one of your household members tends to plunge into computer tasks without enough knowledge to stay out of trouble (usually, that means one of the parents-most kids are far more sophisticated about computers than their parents are). All network administrators can identify those users who “know enough to be dangerous”; these are the users they restrict.
For computers running Windows 98/Me, the only advantage to logons and passwords is to load the user profile. There’s no security built into these operating systems. Any passing stranger can walk up to a Windows 98 computer, turn it on, and when the Logon dialog appears press ESC or click Cancel, and voila-he’s in the computer and can do anything he wants.
It’s possible to use logon names and profiles without requiring a password (a user without a password is said to have a null password), and this scenario is common in many home networks. However, for a business network, where outsiders may be on the premises, it’s a real security risk to permit users to omit passwords.
But before you turn to the chapter on installation, you need to know which chapter to read, because each connection type is covered in its own chapter. To help you decide, I’ll present an overview of each of the following connection types:
The hardware devices you need to run these topologies are available from Linksys-the hardware manufacturer both authors of this book prefer (in fact both of us were Linksys fans before anyone ever thought of writing this book). In the chapters that follow, we’ll provide Linksys model names and numbers when appropriate.
During the discussion on connection choices, I’ll be talking about the speed at which each connection type can transfer data among computers. Network speeds are rated in Megabits Per Second (Mbps). A megabit is a million binary pulses, which doesn’t mean anything unless you can think about it in a familiar perspective. The easiest way to do that is to think about a dial-up modem. The fastest dial-up modems available transmit data at the rate of 56,000 bits per second (56 Kilobits or 56 Kbps). If you’ve ever used a dial-up modem to download a file from the Internet, and you watched the progress bar move rather swiftly as thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and finally millions of bytes were delivered to your computer, think about how fast a megabit must be.
Ethernet can transfer data across the network at 100Mbps, as long as the NIC and the hub/switch can support that speed. Some older NICs and hubs can send data at only 10Mbps, but Ethernet NICs and hubs/switches can automatically sense the speed of the Ethernet devices on the network and drop or raise the speed to match the device’s capabilities (this feature is called autosensing).
Today, Ethernet cable is purchased in the form of 100BaseT cable, which is also called twisted pair cable and category 5 UTP cable. The “100” in the name refers to the speed at which it can transmit data (100Mbps); sometimes 100BaseT Ethernet is called fast Ethernet. Older Ethernet cable that can transmit data at 10Mbps is called 10BaseT.
The term “base” is short for “baseband signaling,” which means that only Ethernet signals are carried on the wires. This differs from telephone wire, which can handle multiple types of signals. (Your telephone service uses only a portion of the wires, and you can use other portions for other technologies, including computer networks, which is discussed in Chapter 6.)
The term “T” means twisted-pair, which is a description of the way the wires are twisted and paired through the cable. (Other wiring types, such as those for fiber-optic wires, which is called 100BaseF, also exist.)
Ethernet cable looks like telephone wire, and the connectors (also called jacks, even though the jack is the wall outlet to definition purists) look like the connectors on your telephone cable. However, they’re not the same. The wires are twisted differently and the arrangement of wires in the connector is different (a telephone jack is an RJ-11, an Ethernet jack is an RJ-45).
There are pros and cons for using your household telephone wires, and they balance rather evenly. On the pro side, the only hardware you need is a NIC and length of plain telephone wire for each computer. Each computer is plugged into a regular telephone wall jack, eliminating the need to buy or install Ethernet cable. You can use your telephone wall jack for both a telephone and a network connection at the same time by installing a splitter (really called a modular duplex jack) which is a gadget you can buy at your local supermarket. The splitter has a male jack that goes into the wall jack, and it has two female jacks on the outside. Plug a telephone cable into the Phoneline network card into one jack and your telephone cable into the other jack.
On the con side, not every room in your house may have a telephone jack, so you must plan the location of your computers around jack availability. Also, if you have more than one telephone number in your house, all the computers on your network must be connected through the same number. Computers can’t communicate across different telephone numbers-but then, neither can you. If people are talking on line 1, you can’t pick up a telephone connected to line 2 and join their conversation (or eavesdrop).
If your business uses a PBX telephone system, you can’t use the jacks for your network, because the wiring is different from regular telephone jacks. PBX jacks are designed to deliver all the services that come with your phone system. In addition, if you have a DSL device for your Internet connection, you’ll face some interoperability problems, but the workarounds aren’t very complicated (and they’re covered in Chapter 6).
Another “con” for using telephone lines is that the maximum distance between any two computers is about 1000 feet-but unless you live in Windsor Castle, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Telephone networks operate at 10 Mbps (although faster devices should be available soon), which is not as fast as today’s fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) but matches the speed at which corporate networks operated until the recent introduction of fast Ethernet. In fact, plenty of networked computers still operate at 10 Mbps Ethernet, because the company’s Information Technology (IT) professionals decided they didn’t have a compelling reason to update the hardware. A connection speed of 10 Mbps is more than sufficient for almost any data transfer tasks. Actually, I don’t know whether to call the speed rating of telephone lines a pro or a con.
The NIC in each computer connects that computer to the nearest electrical outlet, and once all the NICs are installed and plugged in, you have a network. The speed of data exchange is about 14Mbps, which is more than fast enough for anything I ever wanted to do on a network. One obvious advantage to this connection type is the fact that at least one electrical outlet exists in every room, so you can put your computers anywhere you wish. Turn to Chapter 7 for instructions on installing your network over your household electrical wires.
The NIC has a transceiver (named for the fact that it both sends and receives data) and an antenna, and the data communication rate is about 11 Mbps for 802.11b and 54 to 72 Mbps for 802.11a (discussed more in Chapter 5). The interference problems that plagued early versions of wireless networking have disappeared, and you no longer have to worry that copying a file might open your garage door. In addition, robust security functions are built into the Linksys wireless devices, so you don’t have to worry that a neighbor who also uses wireless technology could intrude on your network and gain access to your data.
The downside of wireless communication is that the signal can be interrupted by metal. So if you store your computer under a metal desk, you’ll also have communication problems. This is also true if the walls between computers have a lot of metal pipes inside (typical of older homes, before PVC became the standard material for drain pipes). There’s also a distance maximum between computers (about 150 feet), but Linksys offers devices that extend the signal.
|Pt. I||Getting started|
|Ch. 1||Networking choices||3|
|Ch. 2||Purchasing and connecting hardware||19|
|Ch. 3||Internet connection hardware||41|
|Pt. II||Installing your network|
|Ch. 4||Installing an ethernet cable network||63|
|Ch. 5||Installing a wireless network||89|
|Ch. 6||Using telephone lines||135|
|Ch. 7||Plugging in to electric wires||167|
|Pt. III||Advanced networking|
|Ch. 8||Configuring network settings||183|
|Ch. 10||Tips, tricks, and troubleshooting||251|
|Ch. 11||Sharing network resources||287|
|App. A||Glossary of network terminology||319|
|App. B||Advanced network tools||337|