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A home computer network is a system that connects all of the computers in a home. This allows the sharing of data, Internet connections, printers, scanners, and more. With multiple computers in a household, a home network can be very convenient and in some cases, necessary.
Without a home computer network, sharing files can be complicated. Data must be burned to a disk or saved to a universal serial bus (USB), and then manually transferred to another computer or device. Printer sharing is also very difficult without a network, and may require users to email information for printing from the connected computer.
Home computer networks may be set up in a variety of ways, but the basic necessary components are typically the same. Generally, there are at least two computers to connect over the network. A router and networking software to aid in the exchange of information are both required.
There are two ways to set up a home computer network — wired or wireless. Both of these types of networks require a router. The router will help to connect various computers to each other, as well as enabling them to share an Internet connection and various peripheral devices.
Wired networks are good for users who need to move large amounts of data quickly. Ethernet cable can be costly and, if the computers that are to be connected are far apart, large amounts may be required. This type of home computer network is less convenient for laptop users, as they must be physically connected by an Ethernet cable. An Ethernet router is necessary to coordinate traffic between all of the desired computers and devices.
Wireless networks use radio waves instead of wires. This allows users to be more flexible in the location of the computers and devices on the network. A wireless router is needed, as well as wireless adapters in each computer. Printers and other devices may be connected as well.
For those choosing a wireless home computer network, it is advisable to set up security to prevent others from accessing your network. Options include wired equivalent privacy (WEP), WiFi protected access (WPA), and media access control (MAC). WPA generally provides more protection than the other options.
If an Internet connection is going to be shared on the home computer network, the Internet modem must be connected to the router. It is advisable to use a firewall to protect your network from viruses or hackers. A firewall is usually a software program that blocks unauthorized access through the Internet.