A home network allows for the devices in your home to easily communicate with one another over a single shared connection. There are many positives to setting up home networks, though some less tech-savvy individuals may be a bit stumped as to how to set one up, and how they work exactly. Fear not, it’s easier than you might expect and, once set up, will make your internet browsing even better.
So, let's walk through everything about home networking, including how to set one up, connecting devices to a home network, how to properly secure your network, and more.
Almost everyone has a home network of some sort today. Whether you’ve got a wired-only house or one filled with WiFi, there are lots of reasons to maximize your home network, including:
1. Network File Sharing
A home network allows home users to easily share files between different home computers. Sharing devices over a home network is often much faster than the alternative of transferring the file from device to device via external media, such as a USB flash drive or SD card. This ability to share files with one another simplifies many home computing processes. For example, home users no longer need to email large files to one another. Instead, home users can simply place the file on their home server and allow other home devices to download it from there.
2. Sharing Printers and Other Peripherals
A home network allows home users to easily share devices such as printers and external hard drives between home computers. The use of a home network simplifies the otherwise sometimes tedious processes and makes it easier for everyone in the house.
3. Video Game LAN Support
Older home video game consoles, such as the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2, support LAN connections to other home consoles or home PCs. A home network allows home users to easily connect their home gaming console to others in the home without the need for any special equipment, and play online games with others in the same household.
4. Better Security
The use of home networks also allows for better security. When home computers are connected in a home network, home users can set up password protection for their home wireless networks. This prevents other unwanted home devices from accessing the home network when not authorized.
The first thing you'll need to do in order to set up a home network is pick out a wireless router. There are many different home networking devices available, however most home networks will use routers. These devices allow for multiple home network connections (both wired and/or wireless), while also allowing you to connect home theater devices like game consoles, television sets, sound systems, Blu-ray players, etc.
Be sure that the router you're using has enough Ethernet ports for all of your home network’s needs. In most home networks, a minimum of four Ethernet ports will be necessary. Pick a router capable enough to fulfill your home networking needs, but remember that you don't need to break the bank in order to find one suitable.
After you have installed your home network equipment, it's time to configure it. Begin by plugging in the router and turning on the modem.
Once everything has been plugged in, open up a web browser on any device connected to one of the home Internet ports. You can obtain the home network's password by checking your home router's documentation. If you are still having difficulties, contact the home internet service provider for more help.
Many home wireless routers can be easily set up using a simple application on a computer or mobile device instead of navigating through the default router interface with your web browser. For example, some home wireless routers allow users to connect their mobile devices directly to the home network name (sometimes called an SSID) and enter the security parameters into an application on that device to configure home network settings.
The best locations for home wireless routers would be in the central area of your home. Typically, this is at or near the highest point of your house--wherever you get consistent Wi-Fi reception without obstructions. The importance of having a good home network router location can't be stressed enough.
If you're using an older home model router that doesn't support multiple bands or beamforming antenna technology, then its range and coverage areas are limited to where it can transmit wireless signals at full strength. If it's too far away from where you usually use your home computer (or other devices like laptops, tablets, game consoles) chances are the connection speed will suffer significantly depending on how many walls and separate them from your home wireless router.
Absolutely avoid putting the router within closets, cabinets, or other small spaces as this will negatively affect your internet reception greatly.
Now that you've picked out the best location for your home wireless router, you'll want to connect all of the devices to it that need an internet connection. This will include things like home computers, laptops, tablets, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and more.
Start off by plugging the home wireless router into a power outlet and turning it on. A solid blue light on most routers means that it's powering on successfully.
Next, you'll need to find out what type of Wi-Fi network name or SSID your home wireless router is broadcasting so you can tell which one to choose from your device's home screen as you connect to it. Each home wireless network has its own unique SSID, so keep this in mind. Once you know your home Wi-Fi's SSID, it's time to connect.
Now that the home wireless router is turned on and broadcasting a wireless network, we can start connecting home devices to it wirelessly. If you have a laptop or desktop computer with a wireless card built in, it should detect the home wireless router right away when you open up your home screen. Select your home network from the list of available networks and then enter in any security key or password that might be set up by default with your home router. This will be different depending on which brand and model of home wireless router you have purchased so check with the manufacturer if needed.
Once connected, load up a website just to make sure everything is working properly. Once confirmed, try another home application that you use to see if it works. This includes video games like Xbox or PlayStation, streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, home entertainment systems like Roku or Fire TV, home security systems like Ring Video Doorbells, etc.
While home networks may be easy to use and set up, they also pose great security risks as these home-based systems aren't usually protected to the same degree as a company or business network. With the home network now plugged into the Internet, you suddenly have access to hundreds of devices – computers, mobile devices, tablets – and each device also has potential access to your network, as well.
Luckily, there are many ways that you can strengthen the security of your home network in order to prevent unwanted users from accessing your home network.
1. Make a Custom Password
In order to see all of your home's devices, a home network needs a password. This is the first step in strengthening home network security. Make sure that this password is difficult to guess. Avoid identifying the home network as yours by not using your name or initials either. For home networks that use a router, it is particularly important to change home network passwords as often as possible.
2. Turn on Wireless Network Encryption
This may sound confusing and unnecessary for home networks, but wireless encryption is an excellent way to prevent home devices from connecting with the wrong home network outside of your home. But this may be more necessary than you think, however.
3. Use Firewalls
Firewalls are an extra layer of protection for home networks. Firewalls block connections from home devices to the outside world, which is something you don't want as it limits how much browsing and other home network activities can be done online.
4. Turn Off your Wi-Fi while not at home
Though this may seem weird, as wireless internet is fairly common in houses these days, one sure-fire way to prevent unwanted users is to simply turn off your home router.
5. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Virtual Private Networks (or VPNs) have really grown in popularity recently, as they provide an extra level of security to home devices. A VPN will encrypt all the information sent and received on home devices, increasing privacy and keeping hackers out of your home network. And though VPNs have an additional monthly cost, many consider them crucial if you're trying to keep your device information private.
Overall, there are a ton of advantages to having a private home network. And while it might seem a bit confusing if you’re brand new to home networking, the act of properly setting one up is actually quite straightforward and easy. If you follow this guide, you should be able to have a home network set up and ready in no time.
More from the Micro Center Community:
Looking for more information about Home Networking? We’ve got Home Networking guides as well as articles on How to Boost your WiFi Signal, How to Troubleshoot Network Problems, and How to Access and Configure a Router. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to post a new discussion and the Community will be happy to help!
Submit photos and a description of your PC to our build showcase
See other custom PC builds and get some ideas for what can be done
Services starting at $149.99