How to setup your own home network

Build your own secure home network and share with all computers in your home your favorite files, music, photos and video. CLICK HERE for Step-By-Step Tutorial for Home Network Automation and Network Setup.

We have reached an era that a home has more than one computer. Now the PC has its “little brother” which is none other than the laptop and there are many people who use a second PC. This guide will show you in simple steps how to build your own home network so you can give internet access for all computers but also to share files and data between them.

Step 1: “Materials needed”

The most basic component in a network is the router. This is the device which will be sharing internet access for all computers, and it has also the “primary responsibility” to connect them together and make possible the sharing of files between them. Regarding the kind of router to buy, now the choice of a wireless device is almost mandatory, since computers can be located far away from each other in the house, and if there is a laptop, this may not have a fixed location. The price for a wireless router depends on its quality but also on other characteristics such as the wireless coverage range. Prices start from $50 and can reach up to $200 and there are highly professional solutions for over $1000.

The second component needed in a home network is called a “network card”. Usually, in modern computers it is not necessary to buy a network card since their motherboards have built-in wireless network cards that make it possible to interface at no additional charge. However, older (and economical) systems do not have these cards embedded with the result that you need to buy one. These cards are making it possible for wireless communications between computer and router.

Step 2: Connectivity

After you got everything you need and you have correctly installed the router and network cards, all that remains is to connect them together. For starters, you should go to router settings and find the option that enables the wireless network (WLAN which means Wireless LAN). These settings have to be configured on the router from a “central” computer, which should be connected to the router with a cable instead of wirelessly. Depending on the router you buy, this option may be in a different place, but will always have the same name, ie WLAN. After you switch on the WLAN, you should make sure the network cards of the other computers are turned on.

If all goes smoothly, then all computers will have to “find” your connection to the router and automatically connect to it. If this does not happen then make sure you have activated the wireless network to other computers, especially if you have a laptop, since in these there is usually a small button that activates or deactivates the wireless. Also, many firewalls will not allow the connection and it would be best-at least for a start-to disable it to see if all goes well.

Step 3: Security

If you connect all your computers successfully, there is a significant factor that should receive serious consideration. This is the security of your network. You see, your wireless router does not distinguish your own computers from the rest in the building (or even the neighborhood …!) And they may all use your own network and “steal” bandwidth. To avoid this you should get into the router settings and find the option «encryption» (usually located in the tab WLAN). There select the «WPA-PSK» or «WPA2» and immediately you will be asked a password. After entering your password, then automatically the other computers you will be asked the same keyword that you must enter to gain access to your network.

Step 4: File Sharing

Now logically all computers must have internet access and all that remains is for you to share the files you want. To do this, all you have to do is go to the folder you want to give access to all your computers and right-click with the mouse. Select “Properties” and the window that appears select the tab “sharing”. Now all you have to do is check the box that says “share the folder on the network” (the middle option). That’s it! You can do the same for your entire hard disk with the same procedure.

For Detailed information about setting up a home network CLICK HERE.

BitTorrent Downloads without a PC – QNAP vs Synology NAS

How many times have you left your PC on for few days to complete your bit-torrent downloads? I’ve been in the same situation several times and started searching for solutions that will help me to download stuff without a PC. The best functionality for such a need is offered by a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system with download capabilities. This solution, in addition that can be used as a silent-low-energy download station, it can offer you also shared file space for your home network, backup capabilities, multimedia support, ability to host websites (PHP and MySQL) and much more.

There are a few vendors out there that manufacture All-in-One NAS devices, but the best ones I found from my research is Synology and QNAP. To be honest I had a very hard time to decide which one is the best but finally I chose a QNAP NAS product (QNAP TS-209 II) mainly because of its hardware specifications (CPU and memory).

The QNAP TS-209 II is comparable with the Synology DS207+ unit (both support two hard-drives in RAID configuration) and they both have an extensive list of excellent features (File Server, access of all your stored files from the Internet, video and audio media streaming, BitTorrent/HTTP/FTP download engine, MySQL and PHP support to host websites, Linux OS etc). However, what made me choose the QNAP TS-209 II over the DS207+ NAS product was the amount and type of its memory. The QNAP carries 256MB DDR2 memory while the Synology carries half of it (128MB). This type of memory together with its 500MHz Marvell processor makes the QNAP TS-209 II unit a powerful Linux all-in-one NAS station that has all the required hardware capabilities for customization and expansion.

I bought my QNAP NAS from the trusted Amazon which had the best overall price (including shipping) from other sources.

Extend your home network using existing electrical outlets

Have you ever scratched your head thinking of ways to extend your internet broadband access to additional rooms in your home? Or even how to put your XBOX or PS3 game console in your bedroom and still have it connected on your home network for playing online games? Fortunately there are solutions available that will enable you to extend your home network coverage anywhere in your home without running any additional cabling or external wire trucking. These solutions make use of the existing electrical wiring to pass IP network data with rates as high as 85 Mbps which will be more than enough for home needs.

The NETGEAR XE103 85 Mbps Powerline Network Adapter provides such a solution. This is an excellent product for extending your home network by using standard electrical outlets. The diagram below shows you a simple home network setup using the Netgear XE103.

netgear xe103 powerline network adapter

One possible scenario as shown on the diagram above is to extend your Internet access from your office room to your living room. You just need to plug in two XE103 adapters one in each room (on the electrical outlets) and then use the office room adapter’s 10/100 Ethernet port to connect to your Internet router, and the other adapter to connect any Ethernet-ready device (laptop, PC, XBOX, PS3, DVR etc). If you connect also a third powerline adapter on a different room, then it will participate in the same network segment as the rest of your devices and you will be able to connect another device in your home network.

There is no software to install and works with all Windows versions, or any Game Console types (Xbox,PS3, Wii etc).

The cheapest price I found for this product is from Amazon.

Update: Another similar great product from Netgear is the NETGEAR XAVB101 Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit which includes 2 adapters delivering 200 Mbps throughput and also supports 128-bit encryption for secure data communication. This model earned also an “EDITOR CHOICE” award from PC Magazine, so its worth it to check it out.

Bring your Home TV to your PC – Watch TV on PC

Continuing our series of posts with the Home Network technologies, in this post I will present another application of a wired or wireless home network: Watching and managing your TV programs from your computer. The PCTV to Go device from Pinnacle can make this possible. Lets start with a diagram to make things clear.

The PCTV device can serve as your central TV management station. Just plug the PCTV to any TV source (Video, Satellite, or Cable TV receiver), run the setup wizard and you are ready to watch your favorite TV programs from your PC, no matter if your are at home or from anywhere in the world via the internet.

As shown on the Home Network diagram above, the Pinnacle PCTV device connects with an A/V cable (included) with any TV source device (DVD, TV Set-top Box, Cable TV receiver, Satellite Receiver etc) and at the same time it sends the TV signal to your TV box. On the network interfaces of PCTV, you can connect either a wireless Wi-Fi device (e.g Laptop) or a wired LAN device (e.g your Home PC) to receive and enjoy the highest quality remote TV experience on your PC with full resolution DVD-like quality in MPEG-2. When away from home, Pinnacle PCTV streams your home TV across the Internet to your PC in  MPEG-4 format so you can watch all your favorite TV programs from anywhere in the world.

With the included Pinnacle Player Software, you can schedule recordings, Pause, Rewind and Play Live TV directly on your PC. Pinnacle PCTV integrates also with Windows Media Center as a TV source and its an excellent companion with Windows Vista Media Center software to unleash a powerful suite of functions. The Listed price of this product from Pinnacle website (as of August 2008) is $79.99

Xbox 360 Home Network Setup

Xbox 360 Home Network Setup

A home wired network can be used to connect your Xbox game console (or any other network-ready game device, such as Playstation or Wii) with your personal home computer, and with your Internet Router for accessing Xbox Live resources.

Setting up a home network doesn’t have to be a scary task. The network diagram below shows a simple home network setup with an Xbox device and a personal computer.

xbox home network setup

You will need a Cable/DSL Modem and a Cable/DSL Router (these two devices can be the same device if you buy an integrated Cable/DSL Router-Modem). As you can see above, the Modem device connects to your Wall Jack ( which can be a Telephone Jack if its a DSL modem or a Cable Jack if its a Cable modem) in order to get connected to your Internet Service Provider. Then, the modem connects to your Cable/DSL Router, which has many Ethernet RJ-45 ports, in order for you to connect your network home devices (XBOX, PC, Printer etc). You will need a network cable (Ethernet cable), which comes with the Xbox 360 device, to connect it to your Router, as shown in the pictures below:

connect xbox ethernet connect xbox with router

First turn off your Xbox 360 and connect one end of the Ethernet Network Cable to the I/O port on the back of the Xbox, and the other end of the cable to the Internet Router. Then, start your Xbox 360 and create your gamer profile to get started with both the Xbox 360 system and Xbox Live.

If you want a suggestion for a great Internet Sharing router model, then the Linksys WRT160N Ultra RangePlus Wireless-N Broadband Router is an excellent choice. This device offers both wired and wireless Internet-sharing and 4-port Switch, with a built in speed and range enhanced Wireless Access Point.

After connecting your Xbox console you will want to start playing games right? Before doing that though, I suggest you make a backup copy of each game CD you have. You don’t want to have your expensive video game CD scratched and destroyed. Just make a backup copy for it to have it for ever. However, make sure that you have the original game in order to make a legitimate copy backup.

Increase your Internet Speed

If you are a dialup user, you may be having some concerns with a slow Internet connections. I’m sure that you have experienced, slow downloads, slow connect, slow to open even the simplest website, and all of the fun things that can go along with dialup. There is an answer to this by taking advantage of a web accelerator.

An Internet accelerator has been designed to speed up the process of downloading images and media over a dialup connection. It does this with a compression technology. The accelerator will actually compress all data and files, which means that your websites will now load a faster rate. This is particularly useful when you visit the same sites repeatedly, because most accelerators have a save feature that allows you to keep something similar to a copy of the website to download faster the very next time you need to access the website. Continue reading “Increase your Internet Speed”

Home Network Setup – Firewire Network (IEEE 1394)

You can connect two computers together (back-to-back network) using the firewire port (IEEE 1394) found in almost all modern computers today. The firewire port has a data speed of 400Mbps, so you can have a high speed data connection to transfer files between the two computers. All you need is just a firewire cable (max. length 15ft – 5m) connecting the two firewire (1394) ports of the computers, and some TCP/IP network settings for the firewire ports, as shown below. Continue reading “Home Network Setup – Firewire Network (IEEE 1394)”

Home Network Setup – PowerLine Home Network (Homeplug)

PowerLine networking is based on the concept of “no new wires”, similar with the PhoneLine network technology. Basically it uses the existing electrical wiring in your house to create a home network. The PowerLine technology is driven by the HomePlug Industry Alliance, which defined the following standards:

  • HomePlug 1.0 — Older Specification for connecting devices via power lines in the home. Theoretical speed of 14 Mbit/s.
  • HomePlug AV — Current Specification which allows for speeds up to 200 Mbps half-duplex. This HomePlug version can be suitable for transmitting High Definition TV (HDTV) and Voice over IP (VoIP) in the home network.

Continue reading “Home Network Setup – PowerLine Home Network (Homeplug)”