How to : Set Up Small Office or Home Network (1)

A network is one of the most primary requirement if you are setting an office comprising of a few people with PC or notebook/laptop. This network’s function is to basically connect their workstation to one another, and allowing many forms of communication between two or more PCs to take place.

Few examples include Printer Sharing, File Sharing, and Local Chatting can be achieved only when the computers are connected to the same network. Now let’s take a look at how a simple network can be created easily, even for those with lack of technical experience. Please bear in mind that this article is meant for purely connecting PCs to a LAN (Local Area Network) with the least effort needed.

  • First thing we need is a Switch.

Switch is the main controller of your network. Think of it as a ship port where all ships connect and do exchange. Computers are also connected to this switch and exchange data (called packets) with other computers in the same network.

A switch comes with typically 5, 8, 10, and 24 ports. Each port is hooked to one device, so let’s assume that you have 3 PCs at home and a printer to be shared, then you will need a 5-ports switch (3 PCs + 1 Printer = 4, but the minimum port in a switch is 5). There are also speed indicated on the box of the switch (10/100 or 10/100/1000) which indicates the maximum transfer speed that can be handled by the switch. 10/100 means at most 100 Mbps (megabits per second) can be pass through the switch and 10/100/1000 or the gigabit switch can handle up to 1000 Mbps.

There are lots of brands of switch out there, such as TP-Link, D-Link, Cisco, etc. Simply choose one that fits your budget and requirement. It starts as cheap as $4 for a mediocre quality switch with 5 ports. For a better future-proof connection, choose aluminium / steel body instead of plastic, with gigabit speed. More ports is also nice just in case you want to add more PCs to your network in the future.

 

  • Second is the ethernet cable

A most common way to connect PCs to a network is through ethernet cable. There is also a wireless option, but we will discuss that on another article.

 

 

An ethernet cable connects a PC to the switch, acting as the “road” or media for the data/packets to be sent towards the switch and then forwarded to other PC. For connection with a switch, use a straight cable instead of crossover (explained in other article together with the different types of cables such as CAT 5e, CAT 6,and CAT 7). The cable is easy to get at any computer stores, and try to get CAT 6 / CAT 7 from renowned brand such as Belden for future-proof reason).

 

And, that’s all the materials you will need to connect your PCs to one another.  On the next article, i will explain the simplest step-by-step configuration for this network.

 

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