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Network Setup basics - For beginners, Dummies

The Basics and DHCP is it Good or Bad?

Step one in networking is to make sure you have all the parts. You need an Ethernet card for each intended computer and you?ll need a CAT 5 cable for each computer. Also you need a hub, router, or switch if you?re not just plugging into a preexisting network. Before you start buying things here are some pointers.

CAT 5 cable is just the standard cable used in networking. It comes in a variety of colors. Color is just a matter of preference. There are no differences in the quality of the cable. The connectors look a lot like telephone cable but they are not interchangeable. Telephone cables use R-12 jacks oppose to the R-45 jacks used by networks. You should just buy the length you need and you?ll be fine. Unless you are running very long lines, in which case you will want to use a repeater every 200-300 feet.

If you need to share a broadband Internet connection you will need to use a router. A switch and hub will not let you share a broadband Internet connection. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Call your ISP if you want to find out which to use without being charged for and extra IP address. A router originally only had 2 CAT 5 ports. It would read the data pack and send it to the next router until it found the correct computer.
Most routers now are a hybrid of a router and switch. Instead of having multiple routers sitting around the house you have one box that is slightly larger. It has a place for your Internet connection and then places for all your computers CAT 5 cables. That box would have all the workings of a switch but also have a port for your high speed internet connection and something called a NAT. The NAT is what makes a router do what it does. The switch part sends all the data from the network to the NAT. The NAT helps determine where it goes and then sends it to its proper destination while masking its IP.

Now you have to decide if you want to use a switch, hub, or router. There is a difference in hubs and switches, although a switch and router are basically the same thing except a router has a proxy server, which allows the sharing of broadband Internet connections. A 10/100mbps switch is faster than a 10/100mbps hub. The reason the switch is faster than the hub is that your bandwidth is split up on the hub. On a switch each person gets full access to all the bandwidth. So the max capacity of a 10/100mbps hub is 100mbps. If there are already people using the hub and they are using 85mbps you?d be able to use only 15mbps. Or if they are only using 10mpbs you?d have ability to use 90mbps. On a switch if you are connecting at a 100mbps and there are 10 people connecting you are really connecting at 100mbps. A 10/100mbps hub is faster than a 10mbps hub. As a side note now 10/100/1000mbps devices are coming available. They are faster than the 10/100mbps devices but also more expensive. Mbps stands for Megabits per second. So the number plus this unit is the rough transfer rate of your devices.

If you plan on using your full bandwidth capabilities you will want a 10/100mbps Ethernet card and switch. For fastest results get a 10/100mbps Ethernet card and 10/100mbps switch. Ok now on to the guide. The first part of this guide is assuming that you just purchased the hardware and still need to install it.

Written By: Michael Holmes
Date: 4-15-04
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