In today’s household it is becoming more and more commonplace that each member of the family has their own computer, except the dog or cat. It is almost essential to have all of them connected through a network in order to share common resources. Benefits of having a Home network include, sharing an internet connection, files, and/or information located on your computers such as a music or video library. It also enables you to connect with printers and peripherals located on other computers in the household. Also, one of the newer applications people have been using the home network for is for head to head competitive gaming against other individuals in the same house. People have started having social events referred to as Lan Parties just to play games against each other. In the next few paragraphs I will give a basic “how to” on installing your own SOHO (Small Office Home Office) network.

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The most significant choice you are going to have to make is whether you want to go with a wired or a wireless solution or, in some cases, a combination of the two. There are some pros and cons that are associated with both types of networks that need to be taken into consideration before making the leap.

Wired networks have the advantage of higher speeds, improved security and a lower overall cost to buy and install your network. One of the main difficulties with installing a wired network is the actual running of the wires themselves. If you are putting a network into an older house, running the wires through the walls can be very time consuming as well as a down right pain. Wired networks will also restrict you to those fixed points in your house in which you run the wires and outlets. You should also consider to installing several outlets into each room. This way if you decide to rearrange you would still have access to an outlet. It is always a good idea to have any new home or office construction pre-wired for a network. Having your home or office wired for a network while it is being built can save you some headaches and money down the road. If you plan on using your network for bandwidth intensive purposes, then the wired solution is definitely the way you want to go.

Wireless networks, on the other hand, offer an easier installation since you don’t have to run any wires through walls or across floors. One of the main advantages to a wireless connection is that it enables you to connect to your network from anywhere inside your home and in some cases your backyard depending on the signal strength… The sacrifice you are going to have to make if you decide to go wireless is the transmission speeds. Wireless networks transmit and receive at slower speeds than a traditional wired network. There is also the potential for an individual to be able to access or “sniff” your network and get into your computers more easily. If the main uses for your network are going to be checking your e-mail and light web browsing, than wireless would be ok.

In this edition of the e-magazine I am going to take you through the basic steps from cabling and hardware to installing your own basic wired home network.

The first thing that you need to do is purchase all of the items that will need. The following is a suggested list of items:

* A roll of CAT5E or CAT6 4 pair cable.
* RJ45 network jacks. Also referred to as keystone jacks.
* Wall Plates and Wall Caddy’s to attach the plate to. You may also use surface mount boxes instead of plates if you wish but we don’t recommend it…
* A Patch Panel and Wall mount bracket.
* A Router or Switch.
* NIC’s (Network Interface Cards). Most new PC’s come with one already installed these days.
* 110 Style Punch Down tool.
* UTP cable stripper.
* Package of Nylon or Velcro Wire ties.
* And finally, some patience.

All of these items, except the patience, can be purchased at the or any other retailer of networking products.

Click Here for More Details About our 1000FT Blue Quabbin CAT6 600Mhz SolidWhen choosing the cable you are generally going to have two choices which are CAT5E and CAT6. CAT5e and CAT6 cable are completely interchangeable. CAT6 cable offers increased bandwidth which improves transmission performance and provides extra immunity from external noise. Networks operating over CAT6 cabling will have fewer transmission errors resulting in increased network performance. Independent polls show that 80-90 percent of new networks will be wired with CAT6 cable. In association with the category type, you will need to determine what type of outer jacket, PVC or plenum that you will need. In most cases, for a home installation, PVC jacketed cable will suffice. The only time you are required to use plenum is if you are going to be running the wiring through HVAC ducting or in a space defined as a plenum. You should always check with your local fire and zoning laws before you start.

When starting your installation you want to choose a centralized location to run all of the lines to and to mount all of the equipment. For easy reference, I will refer to this location as the “network closet”. Starting from the network closet you are going to run the wires to the rooms. Make sure that you run a line to each room in which you are going to want or need to access your network, either now or in the future. When running multiple lines it is a good idea to label them in some manner so you know which line corresponds to which outlet.

Click Here for More Details About our 24 Port CAT5E Enhanced Patch PanelOnce the wires are run you need to install the connections both in the rooms and at the network closet. In the network closet the easiest way to do this is with a patch panel. Patch panels basically are used to consolidate all of the wires into one panel and effectively route all of the lines coming into the closet.

In order to insert the wires into the panel you are going to need a 110 style Punchdown tool. First, you need to strip the jacket back approximately 1 to 2 inches and spread the 4 pairs of wires apart. There are going to be two color codes shown on the back of the panel, 568A and 568B. Both of these would work, but the most common one in the US is 568B, plus that is what the standard patch cables you buy are wired to. So, following the color code on the back, place the wires in the corresponding slot and use the punch down tool to fully seat the wire. Once you have punched down the wires, you are going to want to tie them down with either plastic or Velcro zip ties in order to provide a strain relief.

Click Here for More Details About our Ivory CAT5E Keystone JackNow in the individual rooms you are going to have to punchdown the wire into a Network (keystone) Jack. The first thing you need to do is determine which mounting option you want to use. One option would be to use a Wall plate and caddy. The other option is to use a surface mount box. For this article, I am going to explain the wall plate method. 7-MP-M – Wall Frame CaddyUsing a Keyhole saw cut your self a hole to the inside dimensions of the wall caddy. After you have the caddy in the wall and the wire run through, bend the metal tabs on the caddy back against the wall to hold it place. Click Here for More Details About our One Port Single Gang Wall Plate – WhiteThe next thing you need to do is terminate the wire into the jack. Make sure that you follow the same steps and use the same color code as you did on the panel, i.e. 568A or 568B. After the wires are terminated, snap the jack into the wall plate and screw the plate to the caddy.

After all the wires are installed and terminated, you are going to need a few more items to complete your network. The following items are what you are going to need. Click Here for More Details About our 10/100 Managed Network Adapter A NIC card (Network Interface Card), most new PC’s already come with one installed. Each computer that will be connected to the network will require one NIC card. The NIC card enables your computer to communicate with the network. You are also going to need a switch or hub of some type. The Switch basically acts as a traffic cop. The main function of the switch is to allow all of the computers to access the network at the same time without any collisions. You might also consider purchasing a Router. If you have a broadband internet connection such a cable or DSL you can purchase a combination broadband modem and router. Click Here for More Details About our 4FT – Blue Booted CAT5E Patch CableOne of the main benefits of using a router in your network configuration is that a router has a built in firewall to protect your computers and help keep your network safe from intruders. You are going to need to be sure to pick up some pre-terminated cables called patch cords or you can make your own using our “How To Guide”. Patch cables come in a variety of lengths. Patch cables are used to connect your networking equipment together.

Next you will need to make sure that all of the computer’s have NIC cards installed. Take one of the patch cables that I mentioned above, plug it into the back of the NIC card, and plug the other end into the wall outlet you installed earlier. Now that takes care of just about everything except installing the switch and router.

Click Here for More Details About our EtherFast® 10/100 16-port Workgroup SwitchThe final step is to head back to the Network closet and hook the switch and modem up. First thing to do is to mount the switch on the wall bracket preferably directly above or below the panel. Now on the switch you are going to see a number of Ethernet ports. Get a patch cable and plug it into one of the ports on the panel that you punched the wires into. From the patch panel, you are going to take the other end of the cable and plug it into the switch. Once you have connected the wires between the patch panel and the switch the only task left is to connect your modem. Using the Ethernet port on the modem connect a patch cable to the uplink port on the switch (this should be labeled “Uplink”).

That’s it your Network is finished. Now you can enjoy playing your music from any networked computer or any of the other numerous benefits of having your own personal network.

This “How To” guide covers the basics involved with the installation of a small network; you should always consult your doctor before starting…just kidding, it is however a good idea to consult a professional. You can also contact us at anytime and we will try to help you to the best of our ability. If you have any questions or comments regarding the information or the steps described in this article please don’t hesitate to contact the The Computer Cable Store is your one stop Discount Computer Cable and Connectivity Solutions shop. With over two thousand and five hundred computer cables and computer cable accessories in stock at all times, we can get you the computer cables and accessories you need, when you need them and of course at discounted prices all the time.