What Is a Home Computer Network to you?

Your home network is a computer network you have in your home. True, but not very helpful? Let’s look a little deeper.

Most people know by now that in order for one computer to share information with another, it’s necessary to connect them together in some way. Those connections and the computers that are part of them form a network. Just like a spider web, when the trapped fly tugs on one part, a signal is sent to the spider at the other end.

In the case of a home network, the web is made up of either cables or wireless signals. Those two basic options make up the difference between what is called a cabled or wired network versus a wireless network. As recently as five years ago, a lifetime in the computer world, the wireless option was complicated and expensive. Today, wireless home networks are often less expensive and easier to create.

At different points along the web there are junctions called nodes. Those nodes can be in the form of computers, switches or routers.

Switches provide a place to plug the cables in that allow a physical connection between communicating computers. Routers perform a similar purpose but with more functions, such as the ability to connect multiple networks together and (as the name suggests) route traffic intelligently between them. In many cases, computers themselves can perform those functions. Software within the system can use the network cards in each computer, with a simple switch in between, to allow communication between them. Though routers have become commonplace, that’s still possible and if your needs are fairly simple it can be the cheapest, easiest way to create a home network.

But computers, switches and routers aren’t the only possible components of a home network. Familiar devices that go under the general name of peripherals are often part of the home web.

One of the reasons for undertaking the expense and effort of creating a network is often to share folders, printer, fax or scanner among multiple computers. If you splurged for a color laser printer or a fax machine at home, you save money by only needing to purchase one device each, instead of multiple printers and faxes for each computer. A home network allows sharing those devices. As part of the basic home network system, you’ll often want to include software and/or hardware known as a firewall. A firewall allows for passing some information sent by trusted sources, but blocks other types of data, or unfriendly malware, viruses, etc that are sent from any other source.

With wireless networks or any home network connected to the Internet, they are a must. Fortunately, routers typically contain some inherent firewall functions. Even software within the OS today can usually perform that function. Putting all these different pieces together in a coherent way that allows you to send and receive files, share printers and more is the process of creating a home network.
Of course, doing it in a way that doesn’t get you tangled up in a sticky web requires a bit of homework.

Probably by the year 2015 all of your appliances in the kitchen along with every entertainment device you have in the house will be connected to the internet.

Watch for future articles that will help you with your Home Network.

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