I've been asked, "Is there any way to share my internet connection and not get charged by my ISP to have multiple computers online?". Well, short and sweet, yes it's simple to share your internet connection over a home network so that you can have multiple devices online at the same time; today we'll dive into how to setup a basic home network.Recommended Wireless Routers
First, what you'll need as a bare minimum is a router for your network; you'll need to decide if you want to have to run wire to each system, or if you'll want to allow the computers to connect via a wireless connection; or both.Recommended Network Switches
Your router has a built in switch which will allow multiple computers to connect to your network, and will share your internet connection to all of the devices in your network. If you need more connections than the 5 (or so) ports on your router you'll need to add a Network Switch and connect it to an available port on your router.Recommended Wireless Cards
Now, to connect wirelessly to your router from your computer it will need a wireless card; this card will allow you to connect to your network without the need for wires. A laptop will have built in network card, but you can upgrade this by purchasing a USB networking card. A desktop doesn't generally have a wireless card built in, but you can add a USB one easily enough, or you could install a PCI card with a wireless antenna.Recommended Networking Cables
If you're going the wired approach, any modern PC or Laptop should have a network port built into it, you'll simply need to buy a network cable. I recommend Cat6a cables as they allow for a faster data throughput; if you, or your organization, doesn't abide by strict standards, I'd recommend Cat7 cables, which allow connections to faster devices, but are out of the official specifications for ethernet cables.
Now, we need to install and configure our new hardware.Installing Network Card
Installing a network card is simple; power down your computer, open the case, and insert the networking card in its appropriate port on your motherboard. When you power up your machine you should be prompted to install new drivers; if drivers could not be found automatically by Windows, you'll need to install the drivers from the CD that ships with the card.Installing a Router
Your router will come with a network cable (likely Cat5e), you'll want to plug the cable into the "WAN" port of your router, and plug the other end into your Cable, Satellite, or DSL modem. Now you'll plug another network cable into your computer, or connect to the network via WiFi.
Note: At least for the purposes of the initial configuration of the router (setting up wireless) you'll generally HAVE to have your router plugged into a computer with a cable. You can use the cable which comes with your router (vs plugging it into your modem, at least for the time being).
Once you've connected to your router your computer should automatically request an ip address from your router; go ahead and open up your web browser of choice and go to http://192.168.1.1
(or the default router ip address as shown in the documentation from your router).
Now, you'll want to make some adjustments to secure your WiFi so that only you, or people designate, can access your network.
Once connected to the Control Panel on your router, you'll want to navigate to the "Wireless" settings, you'll want a configuration similar to:
- SSID: The name of your network (feel free to be creative)
- Channel: Auto
- Security Options: WPA2-PSK [AES]
- Password: [set your password]
You'll likely also want to find the DHCP settings in your router and make these adjustments:
- DHCP Server: Enable
- Starting Address: 200
- Max DHCP: 54
Other settings you'll find useful:Connecting Wireless Computers
From here you'll open the wireless connection setting on all of the wireless computers, it should be in your tool tray and say that it's found a new wireless network! From here simply click on the wireless networking icon in the bottom right corner of windows, then it'll show the list of available access points. You'll want to select the one you setup before in your router configuration. Now you'll simply need to enter in your password and you'll be able to connect.Some Final Steps & Notes
Now, as soon as you plug your router into your cable modem, and connect your wireless computers, you should be online with all computers.