Questions about home networks

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Jon_Are, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    I'm planning on buying a second PC and I'm loaded with questions regarding my options as far as sharing between the two...

    1 - What do I need, hardware-wise, to network the two computers together? I assume I need a router (?)

    2 - Am I correct that I have a wireless/hard-wired choice to make? Other than the fact that one is wireless, are there any advantages to either?

    3 - Is there any configuring to be done within either of the two PCs? How painless is it?

    4 - How does computer 'A' refer to directories on computer 'B'? Does it automatically assign the 'B' hard drive a letter?

    5 - I plan on sharing a single printer between the two units. If I go wireless, will that also take care of the printer functions?

    Thanks!

    Jon
     
  2. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    1) Just two computers with no connection to the internet, you could get by with a NIC in each computer and a crossover cable.

    2) If you buy a router, yes. Wireless does not have wires, but is slower and less secure. The speed generally won't come into play too much unless you transfer a lot of huge files between machines, though.

    3) Well, if you don't get a router or you get something without dhcp you'll have to manually configure your network settings, but it's pretty easy. If you get a wired router, you'll just have to plug them in. If you get wireless, you'll have to configure the router and the individual machines, making certain to enable wep.

    4) Well, assuming you are using windows, there are a couple of ways to use your other machine. Generally you just tell the computer that a particular file is to be shared and then go back to the computer which you want to access the files from and access the computer with the shared files via network neighborhood. You can assign that particular share a drive letter if you want to.

    5) You'll have to get an adapter for the printer, or your wireless router will have to include a little built in print server.

    Not to mention if you don't have either wireless or regular network cards you'll have to buy those as well.
     
  3. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    As far as print sharing goes, if you're running XP you can share the printers (might work under 2000....not sure) without any additional hardware. You just set up the printer as a shared printer, and it will show up as a printer choice on the networked machine.
     
  4. Kris McLaughlin

    Kris McLaughlin Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike's right, printer sharing works just the same in win2k.
     
  5. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    If you want to go all out, get a print server box; it sets up the printer as its separate IP address. Can also, with sufficient expense, handle multiple devices. Its nice if you have a printer shared between two people and you want to put it in a different place than your PCs...
     
  6. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Thanks for all the input.

    I guess I should have given more specifics:

    Running Windows XP.

    Both PCs will use the internet (do I need a second modem?). I use a cable modem.

    More questions:

    1 - What is an NIC?

    2 - This crossover cable...what is it and what does it do? I assume it connects the two machines. In my case, one PC will be on the main floor, the other in the basement. Do these cables come in such lengths? How expensive?

    3 - What does a router do? Is it specific for the internet, or does it perform other functions (file, printer, etc. sharing)?

    Thanks again,

    Jon
     
  7. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    Jon,

    Yes, one of the standard router/switch combos is what you need, they are extremely cheap these days. Since you want to connect both computers to your cable modem, a cross-over cable is out of the picture.

    The switch part of the device is what allows to connect up to 4 computers (more with wireless ones) to it, which then via the router part are all connected to your one cable modem. No need for anything else.

    You configure the router part with an ordinary web-browser. You can set it up to connect automatically to the Internet with your username and password, if your ISP (Internet Service Provider) needs it (I have SBC and I need that).

    In that case all your computers need are a network card (NIC - network interface card), and you are set. No need to install any special software (like I got with the SBC package).

    Also note that 'wireless' only refers to the connection from one or more computers to the router, there is still the network cable that needs to go from the router to your cable modem.

    Wireless cards are quite a bit more expensive than cable-based cards. But if you have a laptop, the freedom to be able to move around is something you easily get used to [​IMG]. It would be easier if wireless will work for you (so you don't have to have any long cables, but check whether you would actually still get a connection across floors.

    OK, that should hopefully cover most of your questions.

    -Christian
     
  8. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Another note about wireless:

    Its ability to work is dependent on your house.

    Putting together a network using cables isn't has messy and difficult as people make it out to be. Simply run the cables through the air ducts.
     
  9. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    1) Network card.

    2) Since you want both machines to use the internet, you will need a router. For that you will just buy regular ethernet cable. It's not terribly expensive but I couldn't say how much off the top of my head.

    3) You can share files and printers between two computers without any sort of external device, two computers with a network card connected by a xover cable can do that. However, for two computers to share an internet connection, you will need a router. You could actually use one of the computers as a sort of router by putting two network cards in it and using internet connection sharing, but having a real router is a better way to go. A router uses Network Address Translation to take the one ip address you get from your isp into 255 private addresses that you could potentially use all on one connection. This also provides a measure of security for your computers by making them difficult to access from outside your network.
     
  10. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    You guys are great.

    Doing the wiring won't be a problem at all, so I've decided to go the wired route.

    With that in mind, I guess I need:

    A router
    Two NICs
    A good length of crossover (Cat5?) cable.

    Correct?

    If so, how would the connections go...each PC connected to the router (from the NIC, using Cat5), and the router connected to the cable modem (using the same type of cable?)?


    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  11. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    You just need regular cable with a router, not crossover. You'll need a length of cable to go from each computer to the router, and then a shorter one to go from the 'internet' or wan port on the router to your cable modem.

    You might want to make sure your computers don't have network cards already before you buy them, whether in pci or builtin form.

    Crossover cable is only used when you connect two devices directly without a hub or anything.
     
  12. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    I'm confused about the terminology.

    Is "regular cable" cat5?

    Or is crossover cable cat5?

    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  13. LewB

    LewB Screenwriter

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    The cable (contains 8 wires) to make the cable is cat 5. The way that the wires are connected within the ends (RJ-45) is what determines whether a cat5 cable is a regular interconnect cable or if it is a 'crossover' cable. Hope this helps.
     
  14. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    Incidentally, you don't need to use all 8 leads in a CAT5 cable. Connecting one lead each to 1,2,3 and 6 pins is good enough - as long as you're not going for long distances.

    This has the advantage that you can use the other leads for things like regular phone lines, which use 2 leads each.

    If you have a relatively newly built home, chances are the builder used an 8 lead wire in setting up phone lines. You can piggyback on that.

    Mike
     
  15. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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  16. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    That's the right sort of cable. I honestly couldn't tell you what the difference between cat5 and cat5e is.
     
  17. Michael_-==+

    Michael_-==+ Auditioning

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    im pretty sure cat 5 is rated at like 100mhz and 5e is 350mhz you want cat5e dont let anybody sell you cat6 its a joke. even gigabit ethernet will run fine over 5e. Inside a network cable there is a wire that is used to send data and one used to recieve it. A crossover cable simply switches these or crosses them over so that the send of one goes to the recieve of the other. This is so two network cards can communicate without any kind of hub or switch in between. This would not be useful in your situation because of the modem. Also there are lots of routers with print servers built in. I would recommend you look for one of these. The main benefit is that each computer would have its own connection to the printer whereas if the printer was shared through a computer that computer would have to be on whenever you wanted to print. Routers with the print server feature dont usually cost anyomore than ones without just kind of a bonus. I'd say dont pay any more than $50
     

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