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How To Set-up a Local Area Network (LAN)

This article explains why you may want a home network and how to set one up.

What is a Local Area Network?

First of all, what is a local area network (LAN)? A network is simply two or more computers set up to communicate with each other. The Internet is a network of millions of computers. In your home, you can set up your computers to communicate with each other and that is a local or home network.

Why Would I Want a Home Network?

A network is useful for several reasons. The most common use is to share an Internet connection. Either one PC or a router connects to the Internet and the other PCs in your home connect to that device to access the Internet. Other reasons include the sharing of resources, such as a printer. One printer can be used by all of your PCs if they are joined by a network. You can also transfer files (useful for backing up data) or play head-to-head games with linked PCs.

What Do I Need to Build a LAN?

Each PC needs a Network Interface Card (aka NIC). Most PCs now come equipped with a NIC, however, you can purchase one for $10 to $20 and install it yourself. If you are connecting only two PCs, you can connect them directly with an ethernet crossover cable. Otherwise, you will need a hub, switch or a router (which acts as a sort of automatic switchboard) to connect two or more PCs together. You will need an ethernet cable to connect each PC to the hub or router.

What Do I Need to Build a Wireless Network?

A wireless network adds to or replaces the hub/router with a wireless router. A wireless network can contain both wired and wireless connections as most wireless routers also have ports for wired connections. Each PC or device that is to be wireless also must have a wireless network card. Beyond that, the setup is nearly identical with the main difference being the need to configure the network security to keep out unauthorized wireless access.

How Do I Set-up the LAN?

You can use the Windows Network Configuration Wizard or you can configure it manually. Each PC must be configured to work on the network, Start with the PC with the most current operating system and work backward to the oldest. Click on your operating system below for instructions specific to configuring your PC.

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