Do you need a wireless home network?

wirless home networkIf you’ve never had a wireless home network in your house, you most likely don’t realize what you’ve been missing.  Being able to sit on the back porch or by the pool is really liberating.

Setting up a home wireless network may sound way too technical for most, but almost all new home wireless routers are so simple to setup securely it is really almost as easy to pushing a button.

In this guide we will review some of the “Why’s”, the “What’s, and the “How’s to setting up your own wireless network in your home. So come along and let us remove some of the mystery behind setting up your very own home wireless network.

Why do you need a wireless home network?

Does everyone on your house fight over the one computer that has an internet connection? Do you use thumb drives, burned CD’s, or even old floppy drives to transfer files between computers? Do you wish you could listen to music stored on your computer on your home stereo? If so, you NEED a wireless home network.

Share your internet connection

Probably the most compelling reason to install a wireless network in your home is the ability to share the internet connection.  Modern home routers perform this function by creating a boundary between you secure home network and the wild wild west of the public Internet.

When you sign up for internet service at home, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will give you a single internet address (IP Address) to use to access everything you need on the world wide web.   This is fine if all you have is one computer. But if you have multiple computers, they each need an IP address to access the internet.

Home routers, just like large business routers, use a process known as network address translation (NAT) to enable multiple computers to access the Internet at the same time.

The other good thing is this allows your computer to be hidden behind the home router, making your computers more secure and less vulnerable to hackers.

Share files and folders

Now that you have your home wireless network setup and feeling secure you can feel comfortable sharing your files or folder to the other computers on your network.  This beat “sneaker net” or copying files to CD or disk any day.

Stream music and movies

So many new TV’s, DVD’s,  game consoles, and Bluray’s are now network ready.  These devices don’t necessarily NEED a network connection, but having one really adds to their functionality.

Networked game play, Streaming Netflix or Hulu, or simply browsing the Internet from the comfort of your couch and viewing it all on your TV is really cool.

 What type of gear do you need?

To make all of this cool stuff happen all you really need is a home wireless router.  Check out our wireless router comparison chart to see which home router is best for you.

There are several different types of home routers.  All are usually not too terribly expensive starting around $49 going up to around $200.  Here are some thing you should look for when considering a home wireless router

  • Built-in Ethernet Switch – Many home wireless routers come with a built-in Ethernet switch.  This is really convenient for connecting several wired devices using a Cat 5 data cable.
  • 802.11n – Wireless routers have evolved over time, getting faster as the technology grew. There are several different wireless standards that each basically represent how fast the wireless network is. The 802.11n standard is the latest and fastest wireless networking technology available so be sure to look for this.
  • WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access Version 2) –  This is the latest in home wireless security standards and pretty much the default in all newer wireless home routers.  Though it does have it’s weaknesses it fine for making sure no one gets on your home network unless you allow them to.
  • Added security and parental controls –  This is optional but a nice to have.  If you have kids, being able to lock down which websites your kids go to, or even having the ability to shut off the network to your kids XBOX360 at 10:00pm during school nights is really helpful.

Extra Features

Many wireless home router manufacturers are adding in all kinds of other features to their devices to set them apart from the crowd.  Things such as “Speed Boost” or Network Antivirus  are fine by themselves, but be careful.  Some of these advanced features come as a trial to only later lock you into a monthly subscription.

 How do you setup a home wireless network?

Setting up a home wireless router hasn’t really changed much over the years.  Check out “How to Set Up a Wireless Router” where we go in depth about this.

wireless home networkMost wireless routers come with a CD and some simple connection instructions.  Probably the hardest part of the setting all of this up is connecting the wires.

If you already have an ISP connections then you most likely have a DSL modem or some other device that connects you to the internet.  Typically if you don’t have a home router yet, your desktop computer connects directly to your DSL modem.

A home router be connected in between your desktop computer and your dsl modem.

Simply disconnect your home desktop computer and plug this cable into the WAN connection of your new wireless home router.  The wireless router should now be connected to the DSL modem.

Next, connect your desktop computer to the new wireless home router LAN port.

 Setup your wireless router

At this point you should be ready to pop in the CD that came with your wireless router and begin setting the wireless portion of things up.

The most complicated part of setting up the wireless network is creating an SSID (service set identifier) and assigning a security key.

The SSID is a name, number, or some other identifier for your wireless network

The security key or WPA2 key is used by WPA2 to authenticate devices so that they can access the network

For every device that needs access to your wireless network you will need to enter these two things so that they can connect.  Most devices will discover the SSID on their own, but sometimes you may have to enter it in manually.

Setting up other devices like an iPhone, iPad or Kindle works the same way.  If you go to the wireless network settings of the device and enter in the SSID and the WPA2 security, you should be on the internet super quick.

 What can you use a wireless network for?

So now that that you’ve done all this work, here is a list of some of the devices that will benefit from having a home wireless network:

  • Wireless laptops
  • iPads, kindles and other eReaders
  • MP3 players
  • Tivo, DVR, Apple TV
  • Internet ready TV
  • DVD/Bluray – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon
  • Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and other gaming consoles
  • Basically anything that needs an internet connection

Don’t forget you can now surf the internet from the back yard, lounging by the pool, in bed, the bathroom or even the garage.

Once you have a wireless home network you won’t quite understand how you could have lived without it all these years.

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