General Information on Building a Network at Home

  Overview Modern home networks are constructed based on 10-Base T or 100-Base TX, 1000-Base T, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n. Devices communicate with each other via a hub, switch, or wireless access point. This creates a star topology. In a wired network, any connection can be severed without bringing down the whole network. With wireless, there are no physical connections to be severed.  
  10-Base T / 100-Base TX/ 1000-Base T 10-Base T or 100-Base TX networks are usually constructed with a hub. A hub is a central networking device that allows several computers to be connected to a network simultaneously. If you are only networking two computers together, you can get away with a crossover cable between them and do away with the hub. However, hubs are so cheap and common, it is better to make the investment in one. Cables are utilize straight through, as it does the crossing for you. Two disadvantages to hubs are the potential for collisions and the rated bandwidth has to be shared among all active ports.  
    Switches connect 10-Base T, 100-Base TX, and/or 1000-Base T networks Non-managed switches are the most common. The most prominent advantages to having a switched network are the separation of network collisions (they are virtually non-existent) and aggregate bandwidth (i.e. each and every port can possibly transmit in full duplex at the rated speed). Managed switches provide additional features, such as shutting down individual ports, creating VLANs, and using a web-based interface to help with monitoring and troubleshooting network activity.  
  Wireless Wireless networks are fast becoming the choice for home networks. The idea of having complete mobility with networked computing devices is a very appealing idea to the average user. Wireless networks can grow with little or no effort in predetermined organization. The common hardware needed is one wireless network card per systema and an access point. Wireless gateway / routers for broadband networks are making a great choice for the access point.  
    One limitation to wireless, however, is security. Although advances have been made in encryption of data, there is always the possibility that someone could conduct "war driving," which involves someone sniffing out wireless networks and tapping them for resources or Internet use. Another limitation is speed: 802.11a networks are limited to 22 Mbps, 802.11b networks to 11 Mbps, 802.11g networks to 54 Mbps, and 802.11n networks to 108 Mbps. However, advancements have been made to allow duplexing wireless networks to provide as much as 300 Mbps of bandwidth. Distance and physical objects (i.e. walls) are problems, too, as the speed drops when moving farther from the access point.  
  10-Base 2 Another older, still usable option is a 10-Base 2 network. This type uses a bus topology, where a continuous coax cable runs from one computer to the next. 10-Base 2 networks provide a cheap alternative to relatively small networks due to the minimal cost of hardware. The computers at the very ends of the cabling line have terminators on them. Systems in between the ends use "T" connectors to branch off each system. 10-Base 2 networks have two disadvantages. First, if there is a break in the line between any two computers, the entire network goes down. Second, the network is limited to 10 Mbps. There are no future provisions to increase the speed of this network type.

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