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How to Set Up a Home Network -- a 7-Step Guide

Since many individuals depend on the consumer's premises hardware that their internet service provider offers for internet access, broadband connections are standard in the majority of houses. This configuration was sufficient for most houses to set up an internal networking.

How to Set Up a Home Network -- a 7-Step Guide

Yet, the COVID-19 epidemic altered the dynamics of the internet. Students can now learn online from home, and more individuals are working from home. All of a sudden, more customers saw that strengthening their home networks was necessary to maximize distance education for their kids and to enable them to work from home, despite the ISP's inadequate CPE capabilities.

In modern times, it's also typical to broaden networks by adding new devices, particularly automation or smart home gadgets. While a family could have used one computer in the past, each member may now own numerous devices. The home network will be necessary for all of these extra PCs, tablets, and phones to remain connected.

How does a home network setup work?

The sort of network we choose to have-wired or wireless-will determine how to set up our home network. Typically, a modem, router, Ethernet hub or wires, and access points are needed for both kinds of networks. An explanation of the contributions made by each of these components to the home network may be found below:

We may access the internet using the modem. Typically, our internet service provider (ISP) provides modems.

All our gadgets are connected via a local area network (LAN), which is created by a wired or wireless router. Wireless devices may connect to routers by transmitting a Wi-Fi signal, while routers may link devices via cables. In addition to linking devices, routers let users set up firewalls to restrict certain kinds of internet traffic and secure the connection using credentials.

Hubs, switches, and Ethernet cables are useful for expanding a local area network and connecting devices within it. Gadgets that have actual wire connections are linked via Ethernet cables, but hubs and switches allow information to be broadcasted from one linked device across all other devices that are connected.

By extending the Wi-Fi broadcast reach within the LAN, access points (APs) increase the system's availability. By offering additional locations for wireless gadgets to link to the LAN, APs may also transform traditional connections into ones that are wireless.

Take note of these seven essential steps for understanding how to set up a home network.

1. Examine the hardware of our home network

The following hardware elements should be considered while configuring a home network:

  • An access point, usually a DSL modem with an asymmetric connection.
  • A router that controls traffic entering and leaving our network.
  • A switch to link wired clients; moreover, a wireless client access point (AP) for networking.
  • A single CPE device may be offered by some ISPs to handle all of these network operations. However, certain vendors might offer just one access device and no other connectivity features, thus customers would have to expand their networks.
  • An ISP has many options for configuring a home network. To increase the number of devices we can access, we may need to purchase extra equipment, based on what the Internet service provider provides and how complicated our demands are.

2. Compare wireless and wired gadgets

In general, wired gadgets outperform wireless devices in terms of efficiency and quality of service (QoS), but these advantages generally come at a greater potential price along with less flexibility. Although wireless devices are portable and may be utilized nearly everywhere, their performance may be erratic or poor, particularly when attempting to retrieve huge files or take part in video conferences.

Desktop PCs, specific media streaming devices, DVRs/cable boxes, and even smart TVs are examples of common connected gadgets. An RJ-45 connector, which allows an Ethernet connection, is a feature of wired devices. There are many gadgets that have both wired and wireless connectivity, such as PCs. Select a wired connection over a wireless one whenever it makes sense since the former will provide faster and more reliable service.

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, video streaming devices, and smart home appliances including doorbells, lights, cameras, locks, and garage door openers are examples of common wireless gadgets. The majority of home networks consist of both wired and wireless devices in a hybrid setup.

In case we work from home and have a laptop but do not require to move around a lot, then using a wired Ethernet connection is what we should do. However, if the notebook's inbuilt adapter is outdated and we are unable to utilize a cable relationship, upgrading to a more recent USB Wi-Fi adapter could improve efficiency altogether.

3. Establish a wired client device connection

Wired device connections are straightforward and generally more reliable than wireless connections. Connect your device to a switch or router using an RJ-45 network cable. Most modern routers support speeds up to 1,000 Mbps (Gigabit Ethernet). For optimal performance, make sure your equipment is compatible with Gigabit Ethernet and use Cat5e, Cat6, or Cat6a cables. While Cat5e cables are sufficient for most home network setups and can support gigabit speeds up to 100 meters, Cat6 cables are recommended for their ability to handle higher data rates and reduce crosstalk, performing better over longer distances.

Cat6a cables, being the most advanced, are ideal if your network needs to support 10Gb speeds over long distances, although they are often not necessary for normal home use. Additionally, consider whether you need an unmanaged switch, which is simple and cost-effective, or a managed switch, which offers advanced features like VLANs and traffic prioritization, if your networking needs are more complex.

4. Establish a wireless client connection

To connect a Wi-Fi client, you may need an additional Wi-Fi access point (AP) or rely on the Wi-Fi functionality integrated into the ISP's all-in-one customer premises equipment (CPE). Could. It is important to secure your network to prevent unauthorized access. Always set a strong password using the Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol. While WPA2 has been the standard, WPA3 is now available and offers advanced security features. If your equipment supports it, it is recommended to select WPA3 for better protection against potential breaches.

Remember, Wi-Fi operates on different frequency bands-2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 5 GHz band should not be confused with 5G, which refers to the fifth generation of cellular network technology. Wi-Fi bands simply refer to the frequencies that your home network uses to transmit data, with 5 GHz providing faster speeds and less interference than 2.4 GHz, although over shorter distances.

5. Increase range of the home network

CPE is often located in a primary living space, such as the living room, which is somewhat far from the workplace at home. Ensuring optimal performance of the CPE, router, and APs is the first step towards expanding the network's reach. Internet tests for speed may assist in confirming the efficiency of a router and ISP, and the internet service provider should guarantee that CPE is optimized.

Reaching the remote areas of our house with more APs is the next phase. The most suitable choice in this situation is a connected Ethernet connection. Additionally, Multimedia over Coax Alliance connections or cable TV cables may be used to expand Ethernet using a powerline adaptor, which makes use of the home's electrical wiring. Wi-Fi signal extension using a mesh system, such as AmpliFi, Eero, or Linksys Velop, is the last option.

Every extension feature has advantages and disadvantages. The best solution is usually Ethernet wiring, although it is more expensive and might require some adjustments, such as punching holes in walls. However, the fact that an Ethernet connection doesn't have to be linked to a single client is by far the greatest advantage of employing one to expand our network. It is able to be fastened to a switch.

Many wired clients may be integrated into another area of the house by expanding the network beyond the router using an Ethernet cable and then installing a switch. With an Ethernet uplink, one may connect another wireless AP to that switch to extend Wi-Fi coverage to other areas of the house.

In general, wireless extenders, also known as signal boosters, are a bad option since they appear to work well but really only cover up performance issues by creating the appearance of better connectivity at the expense of real benefits.

6. Keep the home network safe

Safeguarding the network is a vital component while establishing a home network, regardless of whether we purchase our own router or use the routing capabilities of our ISP. This entails configuring passwords for users on gadgets and updating any device standard passwords that are used to access or manage the network.

Additionally, confirm that the router's firewall is turned on. A network security device is designed to let some types of traffic get through while blocking others.

Virtual ports are utilized by several programs inside routers. For instance, port 80 is used for online traffic, port 443 is used for encrypted web traffic, and certain ports may also need to be available for gaming or streaming devices. Over time, we'll be safer if we make sure to just open the bare minimum of firewall ports.

Additionally, make sure that the cable modem and router's remote access is turned off unless we actually require to get to resources from outside the network. Last but not least, every wireless component on the network needs an effective WPA2 password.

7. Enhance the functionality of the network

Performance optimization is the last factor to consider while developing a network. There are several methods used to measure performance, such as the following:

  • The unit of measurement for bandwidth is usually megabits per second.
  • Latency, which is the millisecond-based measurement of a packet's arrival time.
  • The total amount of delay variance, or jitter, is also expressed in milliseconds.
  • All these data are often provided by networking speed tests, so we can monitor our performance as we make adjustments and see whether it's getting faster.

Usually, Wi-Fi will handle most of the optimization as it has more assignable variables. For instance, obstructions like walls, glass, and microwave ovens may increase interference, and the architectural design of the house might have an impact on performance.

It's also a good idea to find out which Wi-Fi network channels our neighbors are utilizing. Channels 1, 6, or 11 are nonoverlapping channels for 2.4 GHz bands, hence utilizing them is recommended. Given that no one is utilizing channel 4 or 8, it could seem that these are the best options. However, such channels interfere with and overlap with channels 1, 6, and 11, which are used by everyone else, due to channel width.

It's time to optimize apps once we've optimized the network infrastructure. Transferring the quality of service for the network we use, which is often done in the router, might be the first step in this procedure. Based on their kind, QoS permits some packets to be given greater importance than others. To ensure that the quality of a video conference call is not impacted by a game or huge download, we may give video or VoIP traffic a higher priority in this step. Check the router's manual for details on how to configure QoS since each one differs.

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