Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Setting up your home computer network
A friend is moving house and asked how to set up their home computer network. My suggestion was to install their ADSL modem in the home office next to the office PC. The modem is connected to a router with four Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi. The office PC can be connected with an Ethernet cable, as can a second laptop in the room. Wi-Fi could be used, but you might as well use a cable if convenient, for a more reliable and secure connection.
Other computers in the house could be connected by Wi-Fi, with the security turned on. But I still prefer Ethernet cable, if possible.
Another thing to consider is a Skype or other Voice over IP (VOIP) Internet phone service. This could be simply a low cost handset plugged into the office PC , a more expensive router with VOIP built in, a cordless VoIP phone or wi-fi Skype phone. But a home with several people in it might need multiple phone lines and it might be worth considering a full PABX. using This can have a phone number for each person in the house.
If the Wi-Fi is working fine, another option is a Wi-Fi phone. This looks like a mobile phone but works via a Wi-Fi hot spot and Skype. You can use it around the house via your wi-fi base station and when out if near a Wi-Fi hotspot. Each member of the family can have one of these, each with its own phone number and each making a call at the same time.
Keep in mind that a VoIP phone will not work with the power off. Some devices have a fallback facility where the ordinary phone line can be used if the VoIP fails. It would be best to have an ordinary old fashioned phone plugged in as well, just in case. If you get occasional power glitches, you can use a small Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) . This has a battery which can keep the equipment running for the few minutes the average power interruption lasts.
While fitting out the office, consider installing a fire and burglar resistant cabinet to hold a copy of your data. If your computer is destroyed in a fire or stolen, it may be replaced by the insurance company, but your data will not. The larger cabinets will hold a notebook computer.