Networking PCs

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Type Description Advantages Disadvantages
Wired Computers connected through cables (either Ethernet or coax). Coax is slower, and not often used now that Ethernet cables are so cheap. Can be connected directly, or through a router. Very cheap
Need to run cables between computers.
Wireless Computers connected together wirelessly using wireless cards or USB wireless dongles. Can be connected directly, or through a router. No need to run cables between PCs.
Still fairly cheap
More difficult to set up that wired networks, and slightly more expensive.
Security a problem if not correctly secured.
Mains borne signalling (e.g. Net2Plug) PCs are connected together using the mains cables already installed. No routers used. ???? More expensive than wired and wireless networks.

If you're using a wireless network, then read the page on securing wireless networks.

Directly Connected PCs
Although it's common practice to connect PCs through a router, it is not essential. The advantage of not using a router is simply the cost saving in not buying a router. The disadvantage is that any shared resource such as a printer or a broadband connection needs to be connected to a PC that is on 24-hours a day.

Connecting through a router
Instead of having a PC on 24-hours a day to serve the network, any shared resources can be connected to a router. The router is left on 24-hours a day, and shares the resources with whatever PCs are connected to the router at the time. There are several different types of router commonly used in networks, and all types are available as either wired or wireless versions.

ADSL routers
If you have an ADSL connection, then the best option is to buy a router with an ADSL modem built into it. The router is connected directly to the ADSL filter, and then shares the broadband connection to whatever PCs are connected to it at the time.

Broadband routers
If you have a broadband modem that connects to an Ethernet port on your PC (for example a cable modem), then the same modem can be connected directly into the Ethernet port of a broadband modem.

Printer servers
If you want to share a printer between several PCs, and don't want to leave on PC on all the time, then a printer server is the solution.


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Created on: 01 Dec 2004. Modified on: 01 Dec 2004.
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