What you need
Gateway device – There are a number of different devices available from several companies. Check out the following web sites for some popular possibilities:
Gateways have a number of basic features in common, such as NAT (network address translation, translates your public IP to the private IP addresses on your network), built-in DHCP server (automatically hands out network configuration information to each PC), PPPoE (required by some ISP to log on, usually for DSL), and stateful packet inspection (inspects each network packet). Stay away from any gateway without one of these features.
More advanced gateways offer additional integrated features, such as
Before making your purchase think about which features you need and which you don’t care about. Compare models by features, check out reviews online, and finally compare prices online to find the best deal for you.
Note: The web sites listed above carry affordable products for the home user. If you’re looking for something more advanced and are willing to spend the money, then visit Symantec – http://enterprisesecurity.symantec.com, SonicWALL – http://www.sonicwall.com, Cisco – http://www.cisco.com, or Sun – http://www.sun.com
Hub/Switch – Unless your gateway already comes with an integrated hub or switch, you’ll need to purchase a hub or switch. If you’re planning to set up a small home network with just a few PCs, a hub will work fine. The main things to look at when purchasing is to make sure you get a dual-speed hub or switch, meaning it supports both 10MB and 100MB network speed, as well as ensuring you get enough ports. Always get a few more ports than you think you need for possible future expansion. Check out the below web sites for some popular possibilities:
Network Cards – Each PC on your network needs a network card. For under USD20 you can buy a decent 10/100MB PCI network card. Check out the following web sites for some popular possibilities:
Follow the instructions that came with the card to install it. Tip: Instead of using the driver that came in the box, go to the manufacturer’s web site and download the latest driver.
Cat5 cable – You’ll need several pieces of Cat5 cable. The example pictured above requires 5 cables: One from each of the three PCs to the hub, one from the hub to the gateway, one from the gateway to the cable modem. The cable most commonly used for networking is referred to as Cat 5 cable. Every decent computer store will sell you as much Cat 5 cable as you need by the foot. The cable should have a RJ-45 connector on each end, which looks like a phone jack just a little wider. Be sure to get plenty of cable, it is very easy to underestimate the length you need. Alternatively, you can make your own Cat5 cable by following our tutorial: howto/cat5diy1.html.
This is the desired network configuration:
Once you have all the pieces, start the physical setup part. Install a network card in each PC following the included instructions. Make sure that each card shows up properly in the device manager without any conflicts.
Use appropriate lengths of Cat5 cable to connect each PC to the hub or switch. When running the cable, be careful and place it where nobody can trip over it. Make sure it doesn’t have any sharp bends or kinks, which could cause breakage. If you have to run cable through walls, avoid serious injury inflicted by your spouse or landlord – please do not break 5 inch holes at eye-height in the middle of the wall.
Use Cat5 to connect the uplink port of your hub or switch to the LAN port of your gateway device. Pay attention to the link light on the hub/switch. If it doesn’t light up, use the button to switch the uplink port or use a crossover-type cable instead as explained in the Cat5 tutorial.
Lastly, connect the WAN port of the gateway to your cable/DSL modem.
That should be all the physical work involved. Now you need to configure each PC.
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