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Ron Mettler

Home and Small Office Networking

Ron Mettler, CUGG

November 2006

Home and small office networking can offer many benefits to computer users. Sharing a single broadband Internet connection so that two or more computers can access the Internet is the most obvious benefit. Networks can also include file sharing between computers, backing up files from one computer hard drive to another computer hard drive (one element of file sharing), printer sharing, and stand alone network hard drive sharing.

Home and Office networking can be expanded to include other types of equipment such as “Wireless” networking equipped computers, remote wireless still and video cameras, media control centers which interfaces your sound and video equipment with your network either through wireless or wired connections.

To assist those that are interested in the installation of a network system either at home or in a small office environment, the following may help in getting started and hopefully will generate questions for the November 11 meeting.

Planning your network

  1. Plan your network layout. Define where you would like to have various computers setup. Determine a good location for your broadband modem and router (see below for a description of what function the router and modem serves). Do you need or do you desire to use a wireless connection for a laptop or notebook computer? Perhaps the inability to run wiring between the router and a computer elsewhere in the home or office makes a wireless connection the best alternative.

  2. Once you have determined where your computers will be, decide where your printers will be located. If you wish to share a printer, you can accomplish this two ways. A printer may connect to one computer and be setup to share over the network by other users on other computers on the network. This type of setup requires the computer that connects directly to the printer to be running in order for other computers to use the printer. You may even set the remote shared printer as a default printer for more than one user.

  3. Printers can also be shared by connecting them directly to the router either through a wired Ethernet connection or a wireless Ethernet connection. Some low cost printers include built-in wired and/or wireless Ethernet interfaces. One of our club members just recently purchased an HP all-in-one Series 6100 printer/copier/scanner. The device included a wireless Ethernet interface that he connected to the router (without wires). This enabled him to print or scan from either of two computers in his house. This type of connection does not require that a computer be directly connected to the printer and be running as in 2 above.

  4. A printer without an Ethernet interface can be utilized as a network printer by adding a printer server. Simple wireless print servers may be the desired option to consider. Again, such a printer setup does not require that a computer be connected to it. With the printer on, any computer can be on and setup to print to that printer.

Basic equipment needed.

  1. A broadband modem to connect to your incoming broadband service provider is required. A modem is a small piece of equipment that can be purchased or rented from most broadband service providers such as Comcast or Qwest or it can be purchased from places like Office Depot, Circuit City or Best Buy. Be sure to look at the service plan for your broadband provider to determine whether you should rent or purchase. The modem can then be connected to one computer or it can be connected to a router to enable home or office networking.

  2. A router enables the modem connection to be distributed and shared by other computers and equipment such as printers as outlined in A.3. and A.4. above. A router includes built-in firmware that is used in setting up various parameters for the network. Firmware is a program stored in the memory of the router that is accessed with a browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer. Setting up a router for a home or small office involves a number of steps that will be covered in detail during the meeting discussion. Some of basics are covered below to whet the appetite.

  3. Network cards are required for each computer that will be on the network. Most computers purchased in recent years include at least a wired Ethernet card. If running a network cable between the router and each computer is not a problem, then the wired connection is the recommended method. A wired Ethernet connection provides more reliability and system security than a wireless connection does. If a wireless connection is the preferred option, than the remote computers have to be equipped with an internal wireless card or an external USB type of device. Most mid-range and up laptops come equipped with a built-in wireless system.

Setting up the basic system

Usually the broadband service provider will have installed the modem or supplied the modem with a setup disk. The modem should then be connected to a router with a short Ethernet cable. Ethernet cables can be purchased in various lengths with connectors installed. The cable is also referred to as Cat 5 or Cat 5E cable. Most broadband modems will include a short cable for the modem to router connection and most routers will include a short cable for the router to the first computer.

 The setup your router, the following is a brief outline of the procedure:

  1. Access the router using IE or Firefox. Check your manual to see what address to type use. Typically, D-link routers use and Linksys routers use Just type the address in the address line where you normally would use to go to a site such as You will then see a popup window asking for a user name and password. Typically you will type in Admin and then skip the password to go to the next step.

  2. The various screens that need to be looked at and filled in will vary with each kind of router. The mandatory fields to fill in are as follows:

    1. The password to access the router should be changed from a blank to a suitable password - cugger65t6, manlyguy86, etc. Remember the password for accessing the router at a later time.

    2. Set the SSID (your wireless network name) to something other than default, Linksys, or D-Link. You should not want your neighbors to associate the SSID name with your system. Then find where you can “disable broadcasting of the SSID”. This sets the system to require a wireless computer to have to already be looking for your SSID instead of you announcing to the neighbors that you are there.

    3. Set a wireless encryption pass phrase using WPA/PSA/TKIP encryption. You will find that option somewhere in one of the setup screens. Use a password such as littlekid09 (alpha and numbers). This sets the wireless router to only accept wireless connections from computers that already have the pass phrase input and the SSID name input.

    4. Usually the default settings for all other screens will be set to what is needed for the router to operate properly.

If you are totally or partially confused at this point in time, ask your questions at the next meeting. Fortunately, all new modems manufactured from now on will have new firmware that steps you through the basics and prompts you to use at least those security measures mentioned above. We will demonstrate the details of setting up a couple of different routers. We will also touch on TCP/IP settings and how they are used.


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