Now that high speed internet is the norm, more and more people have a home network. A home network is nothing but 2 or more computers connected together via a router. There is more to it than this, but it all boils down to being that simple. To see how it works, let’s trace the internet connection.
If you have cable internet, the signals come into your house over the cable lines. The cable modem converts these signals into an ethernet (looks like a wide phone jack) connection.
If you have DSL internet, the signals come into your house over the phone lines. The DSL modem converts these signals into an ethernet (looks like a wide phone jack) connection.
From the ethernet connection, the internet travels to your router. The router does several important things. It acts as a firewall, blocking people on the internet from accessing your home network. It provides any computer directly connect with a unique IP address which helps the router know what computer is sending/receiving data from the interent.
An IP address is a set of 4 numbers, each 0-255, which identifies a computer on a network. The router uses something called a subnet which is just a group of IP addresses. Most routers use the subnet 192.168.0, which includes all the addresses from 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.254. The router is the 192.168.0.1. These addresses might not be the same as your router is using because every router is different.
Because the router has a firewall, you don’t need a firewall on any computer connected to the router, wired or wireless. That means that Windows won’t have to work as hard to protect your computer because you can turn Windows’ firewall off.
A home network isn’t limited to only having computers. A printer can be connected to the network instead of to a computer. After installing the printer software to a computer connected to the network, you can print from another room! A VOIP (Voice Over IP) phone, such as ViaTalk or Vonage, can be connected to the router as well. The list doesn’t stop there either.